By Jim von Rinteln, FPEM, CEM, CFM
City officials, including; the Mayor, City Mangers Office, Fire Chief and representatives from the Police Department and Building Services traveled to Miami last month in support of a program which encourages local communities to develop a better understanding of dangerous and damaging weather. The Storm Ready program is sponsored by the National Weather Service (NWS) a component of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and is aimed at improving the communication of hazardous weather information and warnings from the NWS to local communities. One of the requirements for the City of Naples becoming a Storm Ready community is for the City leadership to visit the local NWS forecast office and receive an informational tour and briefing. the NWS office that serves the City of Naples is the Miami-South Florida Weather Forecast Office on the campus of Florida International University, Warning Coordination Meteorologist Mr. Robert Molleda, lead our group on a hour-long tour of the facility explaining in detail the history and challenges of weather forecasting in South Florida, as well as some of the things communities and individuals can do to assist in getting hazardous weather warnings in a timely manner, as well as ways to better obtain weather information in general.
It just so happens that the Miami-South Florida facility and is co-located with the National Hurricane Center (NHC) – so our briefing included a tour of this important nerve-center, which is so important to us here in Southwest Florida at this time of the year. The NHC is a hub of activity, composed of several specialized units which; forecast, analyze and predict tropical weather, as well as a Technology and Science Branch which is tasked with improving prediction techniques and computer models. During our visit Hurricane Bertha was off the east Coast of United States graciously staying away from us, and Hurricanes Isselle & Julio in the Pacific were threatening Hawaii (the NHC helps track tropical activity in the Pacific ocean until storms pass 140 degrees west longitude, then they are the responsibility of the Central Pacific Hurricane Center in Honolulu, Hawaii) – so there was lots of tropical activity to see and talk about as well.
It doesn’t matter if it’s boating, golfing or keeping tabs on Naples from up north, the National Weather Service provides many ways to find out what we can expect from our local weather.
One great way a person can receive current weather information, including hazardous weather warnings and non-weather emergency information is to purchase a NOAA Weather Radio with “Specific Area Messaging Encoding” or, SAME capability. This function allows a weather radio to operate much like a smoke detector- only activating with an audible alarm when there is hazardous weather or other emergency information that may affect you. Collier County has had a dedicated NOAA transmitter since 1998 which transmits 162.525 MHz – Collier County SAME code 012021, providing local weather information directly from the NWS in Miami.
The Internet, Facebook and Twitter are also sources available:
The National Weather Service, Miami-South Florida Office: www.srh.noaa.gov/mfl
The National Hurricane Center: www.nhc.noaa.gov