Posted at 4:45 PM
Today, President Barack Obama and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker toured NOAA’s National Hurricane Center in Miami and received the Center’s annual briefing on the upcoming hurricane season. Dr. Rick Knabb, director of the hurricane center, joined NOAA Administrator Dr. Kathryn Sullivan in leading the President and Secretary Pritzker on a tour of the facility and showed them the tools and protocols currently in place to track violent storms and respond to land-falling hurricanes.
The National Hurricane Center is a state-of-the-art facility responsible for issuing watches, warnings, forecasts, and analyses of hazardous tropical weather that can help save American lives and communities before significant weather events strike. The Hurricane Center, part of the Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), is located at Florida International University and is a division of the United States Weather Service
During the tour President Obama and Secretary Pritzker were briefed on NOAA improvements to the supercomputing and modeling capabilities that have dramatically improved predictions, preparedness, response, and recovery from severe weather events, and all important tools needed to build a Weather-Ready Nation. Many of these improvements and upgrades are a direct result of lessons learned from past storms and from increased federal funding following Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
As part of the briefing, Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator, discussed the Climate Resilience Toolkit, a critical part of the President’s Climate Action Plan. The Toolkit, developed by NOAA, is a vital resource for decision-makers looking to take action and boost their climate resilience. It is designed to help people better understand the climate-related risks and opportunities impacting their communities, and provides users data-driven tools, information, and subject-matter expertise to make smarter decisions. . At the briefing Dr. Sullivan also discussed the flood exposure mapper and work NOAA has done with states across the country, especially in the South, to manage risk of sea level rise and increased coastal flooding.
President Obama and Secretary Pritzker toured the Operations area, which is the heart of the National Hurricane Center. During the hurricane season, it is staffed around-the-clock by at least two hurricane specialists from the Hurricane Specialist Unit. When a tropical cyclone is present anywhere, the National Hurricane Center will prepare and issue advisories every six hours, with intermediate advisories in between if needed. It is a process that calls for a thorough analysis of data and the skills of NOAA’s most experienced scientists and weather experts.
NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center announced yesterday the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season will likely be below-normal with a 70 percent likelihood of 6 to 11 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 3 to 6 could become hurricanes. Although NOAA predicts a below-normal season, it only takes one hurricane or tropical storm making landfall to significantly disrupt lives and put properties and businesses at risk.
This week, May 24-30, is National Hurricane Preparedness Week. Communities and families in areas prone to hurricanes are encouraged to prepare now, for a future storm, by developing a family communications plan, building an emergency supply kit for the home, and taking the time to learn evacuation routes. NOAA offers hurricane preparedness tips, along with video and audio public service announcements at www.hurricanes.gov/prepare.