Commerce.gov is getting a facelift soon. See the new design.
Syndicate content

Blog Category: National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration

Commerce Department Encourages Businesses to Prepare Now for Future Emergencies and Disasters

National Preparedness Month Graphic

September is National Preparedness Month. It is crucial that businesses, in addition to government officials and the public, take steps now to prepare for future emergencies or natural disasters. The Commerce Department is encouraging business owners to be good corporate citizens by establishing a plan to help lessen the economic impact of disasters within their communities. Here are three things business owners can do today to prepare for future emergencies and disasters:

  1. Have a business continuity plan. This plan can help protect businesses, employees, and infrastructure, and increase chances of recovery after a disaster.
  2. Know your risks. Gather information about local hazards by contacting your local emergency management office, American Red Cross chapter and NOAA's National Weather Service forecast office.
  3. Become a StormReady community. Being StormReady means your business has multiple ways to receive forecasts and warnings from the National Weather Service, monitors local weather conditions, communicates effectively with employees, promotes public readiness through community seminars, and has a formal hazardous weather plan. 

According to a report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center, Americans coped with 11 weather and climate disaster events in 2012, including seven severe weather and tornado events, two tropical cyclone events, a year-long drought and wildfires. The impacts of this weather have a significant effect on the U.S. economy. In addition to killing over 300 people, the events in 2012 caused more than $110 billion in damages, having particularly devastating economic effects on the impacted areas. That makes last year’s disaster costs second only to 2005, which incurred $160 billion in damages. 

These effects can be felt by businesses that don't reopen after a storm, which also negatively impacts communities and the local economy. The American Red Cross reports that as many as 40 percent of businesses fail following a disaster. But businesses that are weather-ready don't have to be part of this statistic. 

The time is now. Businesses can’t afford to be unprepared, particularly with the peak of hurricane season now in full swing. Implementing the suggested recommendations can help businesses and communities survive natural disasters and sustain their local economies. 

For more information on how businesses can prepare for an emergency, visit www.ready.gov/business.

Shark Week? At NOAA Fisheries, Every Week is Shark Week

Alternate Text

Sharks thrill us because they’re mysterious, powerful, terrifying, and beautiful. That’s why there’s a Shark Week. And, as top predators in the marine ecosystem, sharks are also vital to the health of the ocean. That’s why there’s a corps of NOAA Fisheries scientists and managers who are dedicated to researching and protecting sharks. This week, on the NOAA Fisheries website, you can meet our shark experts.

You can also check out a very cool and—don’t say we didn’t warn you—disgusting video of our expert, Antonella Preti, dissecting the stomach of a 12-foot-long, 1,300 pound shortfin mako shark. She specializes in the feeding ecology of sharks, or more specifically she studies what’s in their stomachs. By analyzing the contents of more than 2,000 swordfish and shark stomachs, Preti and her colleagues have built a database of who eats who in the ocean, an essential tool for managing fisheries. Preti shows us it really takes guts to be a scientist.

Also, meet Lisa Natanson, an expert on the life history of sharks, and see her role in analyzing the age of the shortfin mako. A shark backbone has rings much like those of a tree that can help a scientist determine a shark’s age. On Thursday, August 8, at 2:00 p.m. EST, Natanson and Preti will hold a live tweet chat to answer your questions about shark science and anything you might want to know about the shortfin mako.

John Carlson is a shark scientist whose research focuses on rebuilding vulnerable populations of sharks and sustainably managing shark fisheries. Listen to this podcast to hear Carlson discuss his research into whether sharks are more likely to survive if caught on a circle hook instead of the more common J hook.

You’ll also find loads of other shark content, from videos to photos to interviews with more experts.

At NOAA Fisheries, our goal is to sustainably manage shark populations so that we can continue to enjoy the economic and ecological benefits they provide. And we do that every week of the year. So visit our website at www.fisheries.noaa.govduring Shark Week, and learn what we’re doing to create a sustainable future for sharks.

Readout of U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker’s Visit With Commerce Employees in Boulder, Colorado

Readout of U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker’s Visit With Commerce Employees in Boulder, Colorado

While in Boulder, Colorado, as part of her nationwide listening tour, U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker today met with employees from the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Approximately 1,600 department staff and affiliates are located at the Boulder facility, and the Commerce Boulder Laboratories is the largest  department facility outside Washington, DC.

Secretary Pritzker first held a town hall with approximately 350 employees from the three agencies as part of her commitment to engage with and hear directly from all Commerce employees about their work. The secretary emphasized how their work is crucial to creating a better quality of life for Americans and more opportunities for entrepreneurs and businesses. She also asked employees for their input in the department’s ongoing efforts to protect, promote and inform what America needs to be competitive and innovative in the 21st century.

Readout of U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker’s Visit to Boulder, Colorado

Andrea Chavez, Director of Manufacturing, Ball Aerospace; Rob Strain, President, Ball Aerospace; Penny Pritzker, Secretary of Commerce visit during a tour of Ball’s Boulder manufacturing facility on Thursday.

Today, U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker traveled to Boulder, Colorado, to kick off her nationwide listening tour. Upon her swearing in, Secretary Pritzker announced that she would travel the country to meet with, and hear from, business and community leaders, entrepreneurs, and Commerce Department employees to discuss how public-private partnerships can strengthen the economy and create jobs.

Secretary Pritzker met with Boulder Mayor Matthew Appelbaum to thank him and the city council for their long-standing support of Commerce’s three Boulder laboratories, which are run by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. The two talked about CO-LABS (Colorado Leveraging Assets for Better Science), a consortium of the 24 labs, universities, businesses, local governments, and community leaders organized to establish Colorado as a global leader in research, technology, and their commercialization, as well as other initiatives to fuel economic growth in the region through increased promotion and investment in innovation.

Next, Secretary Pritzer toured Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp., a company that produces spacecraft instruments and sensors, radio frequency and microwave technologies, and a variety of advanced aerospace technologies and products. In addition to Mayor Appelbaum, she was joined by several Ball Aerospace executives, including president Rob Strain, North America metal packaging president Mike Hranicka, and chief financial officer Scott Morrison.  

Ball Aerospace Welcomes Secretary Pritzker on First Stop on Listening Tour

Ball Aerospace President Strain and Commerce Secretary Pritzker view a model of the nation's next polar-orbiting weather satellite.

Guest blog post by Robert D. Strain, President, Ball Aerospace &Technologies Corp.

We were pleased to host U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker on the first stop of her nationwide listening tour.  As a leading manufacturer, Ball appreciated the opportunity to share our perspectives on how to strengthen American businesses with Secretary Pritzker.

Ball has recently made significant investments in its manufacturing facilities including an investment in its spacecraft manufacturing center and an expansion of the company’s metal beverage manufacturing plant in Golden, CO. The Secretary’s tour of our Boulder, CO facilities gave us the opportunity to highlight those investments.

Dialogue between the government and industry is an important part of encouraging the conditions necessary for business growth. Secretary Pritzker’s visit also provided an opportunity to call attention to the role that Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) plays in a significant element of our national infrastructure—our weather prediction capability.

Proposed Cuts Hurt Job Creation, Economy, and the Middle-Class

The President has been clear that Republicans in Congress should work with Democrats to finish a budget that cuts wasteful spending while investing in jobs, the economy, and middle class families. Until Congress reaches a budget agreement, the President will not sign individual appropriations bills that simply attempt to enact the House Republican budget into law. That would hurt our economy and make draconian cuts to middle class priorities.

The House Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations bill demonstrates just how damaging the overall spending limits imposed by House Republican leadership are. The bill would cut $1 billion from the President’s request for the Department of Commerce, requiring a halt to investments in areas designed to help grow the economy, create jobs, and strengthen the middle class. The bill cuts more than $70 million from the International Trade Administration, which prevents placement of Foreign Commercial Service Officers in priority markets to help U.S. companies expand exports. That cut also limits our ability to attract foreign investment.  Instead of building on the momentum of resurgent American manufacturing as the President did in this budget, the bill terminates the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Consortia, which is helping the industry identify long-term manufacturing needs, and it cuts $33 million from the President’s request for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP). The MEP program is a federal-state partnership, which consists of centers located across the country that work directly with their local manufacturing communities to strengthen the competitiveness of our nation's domestic manufacturing base.

Secretary Pritzker Visits NOAA’s Center for Weather and Climate Prediction

Secretary Pritzker Visits NOAA’s Center for Weather and Climate Prediction

On Tuesday, July 2, Secretary Penny Pritzker joined Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland; Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, Acting Administrator of NOAA; Dr. Louis Uccellini, Assistant Administrator of NOAA’s National Weather Service; and, Bryan Norcross, Senior Executive Director of Weather Content and Presentation, and Senior Hurricane Specialist at The Weather Channel for an event at NOAA’s Center for Weather and Climate Prediction in College Park, MD.

Earlier this year, NOAA’s National Weather Service, which is part of the Department of Commerce, received funding through the Sandy Supplemental bill to invest in supercomputing technologies that will improve weather forecasting and modeling capabilities.   
 
The forecasts that NOAA’s National Weather Service provide to entities like The Weather Channel, Accuweather, and more than 300 other partners around the country not only help to save lives and property, but they help businesses operate and move goods as smoothly as possible through our airports and ports.  In many ways, their work is crucial to keeping our economy moving and growing.

June 8 Marks World Ocean Day: NOAA’s National Ocean Service Concludes "30 Days of Oceans" Campaign

The ocean acts like a sunlight filter

Presidential Proclamation Declares June National Oceans Month

June 8 is World Ocean Day, a time to celebrate the ocean which covers most of our planet. 

The ocean—it’s bluedeep, and full of strange-looking forms of life. But beyond its natural beauty and mystery, the ocean is useful to have around for many practical reasons, such as: past ocean life produced enough oxygen to make this planet a nice place to live; it affects the atmosphere, and therefore, the weather and climate; it is full of food humans like to eat; it is fun to play in; and it has lots of materials and mineral resources we use for energy, manufacturing, and transportation.

What is the best way to give your thanks for the many benefits the ocean offers us? By protecting it and keeping it clean, of course.

Here are a few suggestions from NOAA's Office of Response and Restoration for a keeping a healthy and pollution-free ocean:

Also: In conjunction with World Ocean Day, NOAA's National Ocean Service concludes its 30 Days of Oceans campaign.  You can also view the World Ocean Day video at http://oceantoday.noaa.gov/worldoceanday/

For more information on the Presidential proclamation, please visit http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/05/31/presidential-proclamation-national-oceans-month-2013

Commerce Department Supports Disaster Relief Across the Country

A tornado funnel cloud

Only a few weeks ago, an EF5 tornado ripped through Oklahoma.  The 2013 Atlantic hurricane season just began, and forecasts predict that it will be a very active season. Whenever events like these may occur, the Department of Commerce is ready to help communities across the country prepare for and recover from natural disasters.

The U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is one of the Commerce bureaus that assist in disaster-recovery efforts. Just last month, EDA announced grants totaling $54.1 million for disaster relief to 15 communities in 12 states and territories. For example, EDA announced a $20 million investment that will help redevelop the 20th Street corridor in Joplin, Missouri, where a devastating tornado in May 2011 claimed 161 lives, flattened large sections of the city, and destroyed more than 7,000 housing units.

Some other recently announced recovery projects include:

  • rebuilding a flood-damaged railroad bridge across the Judith River in Montana that provides the sole freight link for numerous farming communities;
  • providing communities in New England that were devastated by Tropical Strom Irene with the means to provide technical assistance to small businesses and local governments; and
  • rebuilding public infrastructure in downtown Minot, North Dakota, an area that was destroyed by flooding of the Mouse River.

These projects are part of a $200 million appropriation made by Congress to EDA to help with long-term economic recovery and infrastructure support in communities that received a major disaster designation in fiscal year 2011.

NOAA: National Hurricane Preparedness Week, May 26 — June 1, 2013

Poster for National Hurricane Preparedness Week

National Hurricane Preparedness Week runs from May 26 through June 1 and history teaches that a lack of hurricane awareness and preparation are common threads among all major hurricane disasters. By knowing your vulnerability and what actions you should take, you can reduce the effects of a hurricane disaster.

Hurricane hazards come in many forms, including storm surge, heavy rainfall, inland flooding, high winds, tornadoes, and rip currents. The National Weather Service is responsible for protecting life and property through issuance of timely watches and warnings, but it is essential that your family be ready before a storm approaches. Furthermore, mariners should be aware of special safety precautions when confronted with a hurricane.

Download the Tropical Cyclone Preparedness Guide (PDF) or follow the links for more information. But remember, this is only a guide. The first and most important thing anyone should do when facing a hurricane threat is to use common sense. Additional guidance can be found on NOAA's Be Ready and Weather Ready Nation websites.