Fact: This year, for the first time since hurricane records began in 1851, none of the first seven Atlantic storms have reached hurricane status. No hurricanes hit the U.S. last year and so far this year of the 9 storms that have been named, none have become hurricanes.So in a way the U.S. is kinda due for a wake-up call.
So the push is for all of us nationally to become more self-aware and prepared as extreme storms seem to become more prevalent. NOAA/the National Weather Service is launching an effort to get the entire nation prepared for any storm, any time at this time of the year to remind people to not be complacent. Especially as the hurricane season is entering its peak.
I recently participated in the on the National Weather Service’s meeting about building a Weather Ready Nation. Austin is already a Storm-Ready Community, but now the NWS is trying to make sure everyone nationwide is ready for the worst.
So far this year the nation has experienced 9 separate $1billion disasters. Tying the record from 2008. This year Mother Nature has handed us a bill for more than $35 billion. The latest being the floods along the Missouri and Souris Rivers.
“Severe weather represents a very real threat to public safety that requires additional robust action,” said Jack Hayes, director of NOAA’s National Weather Service. “The increasing impacts of natural disasters, as seen this year, are a stark reminder of the lives and livelihoods at risk.”
We here in Texas are part of the $1billion tally this year.
Southern Plains/Southwest Drought, Heatwave, & Wildfires, Spring-Summer, 2011 Drought, heatwave, and wildfires have created major impacts across the Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, southern Kansas, and western Arkansas and Louisiana. In Texas and Oklahoma, respectively, 75% and 63% of range and pasture conditions were classified in ‘very poor’ condition as of mid-August. Wildfire fighting/suppression costs for the region are also ~$1 million / day with over 2,000 homes and structures lost. The total direct losses (as of August 15) to agriculture, cattle and structures are well over $5.0 billion; both direct and total economic losses will rise dramatically as the event continues.
To build a weather-ready nation NOAA will work in a partnership with other government agencies, media, researchers, and the private sector entities. The National Weather Service is charting a path to a weather-ready nation through:
- Improved precision of weather and water forecasts and effective communication of risk to local authorities;
- Improved weather decision support services with new initiatives such as the development of mobile-ready emergency response specialist teams;
- Innovative science and technological solutions such as the nationwide implementation of Dual Pol radar technology, Integrated Water Resources Science and Services, and the Joint Polar Satellite System;
- Strengthening joint partnerships to enhance community preparedness;
- Working with weather enterprise partners and the emergency management community to enhance safety and economic output and effectively manage environmental resources.
Being ready for whatever the weather brings is EVERYONE’S responsibility. “It starts with National Weather Service and emergency managers, like the U.S. Council of International Association of Emergency Managers, but it ends with actions by individuals and businesses to reduce their risks. The more prepared communities are for destructive weather, the less of a human and economic toll we’ll experience in the future, and that’s a great thing for the country.”
And here in First Warning Weather need your eyes and ears too. Be on the look out for opportunities to become SkyWarn certified in your community this upcoming spring.