Forum to focus on storm surge

Published 1:03 am Monday, April 8, 2013


Over the years, the weather community has developed technology to help it better detect hurricanes, track them and warn people about them.

That effort is an ongoing effort. Part of the effort will be discussed at 9 a.m. Wednesday at the North Carolina Estuarium when area emergency-management personnel, media representatives and others gather for a meeting that will focus on storm surge. Storm surge, usually, is the greatest threat to lives and property during a hurricane, according to the National Weather Service.

The meeting, set up by the National Weather Service, is designed to gather input from those who use NWS services and information during hurricanes. Similar meetings are being held in other locations along the North Carolina coast.

Among those expected to attend the meeting at the Estuarium in Washington are Robbie Rose, Washington’s fire chief; John Pack, Beaufort County’s emergency-services director; Randell Woodruff, Beaufort County manager; Beaufort County Commissioner Hood Richardson and Christina Smith, public-works director for Beaufort County.

During the past 18 months, NWS developed several prototype storm-surge maps that indicated where and how deep storm surge is expected to be in a given area during a hurricane. After some refining, NWS is preparing to use these maps for communities vulnerable to hurricanes.
NWS is seeking input on these maps from the focus groups.

“It’s my understanding they (NWS) do yearly updates. They get feedback from us on how valuable their information is to us in predicting storm surges, which, around this area, means how far is the river going to come up into the city,” said Robbie Rose, Washington’s fire chief, on Monday. “We use that for emergency-planning purposes and preparation for approaching storms. When these folks say, ‘You’re going to have this much of a storm surge,’ we can kind of calculate which of the low-lying flood area are going to probably flood.”

Asked what he hopes to get from attending the meeting, Pack said, “I think it’s more of what they’re hoping to get, and that’s input from us on how to best to put it out to the public how and what the storm-surge watches and warnings mean, if that’s what they’re going to use or if there’s some modification to it. … At least we’ll get an opportunity to comment on what’s intended to go out and maybe help modify what’s intended … I’m happy that we’re getting this opportunity to see it before it all happens.”

NWS considers input from people such as Rose and Pack invaluable in assessing the products and services it provides emergency-response personnel, local governments and others, according to NWS.

“At the meetings, we would like to ask you some questions about these new NWS products and get your input on how to integrate them into local communications about storm surge. We also want to hear what else you need from the NWS to do your job better,” reads a letter from Richard Bandy, the meteorologist in charge of the NWS office in Newport. “You will benefit from hearing first-hand how these products were developed and how they can help you better communicate the threat of a potential storm surge in your community. Your participation will help the NWS foresee potential barriers in implementing these tools and ensure their effectiveness. Your feedback will also help the NWS better serve you in the future.”

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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