Workshop aims to improve severe weather communication

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Meteorologists, emergency responders, and public officials from across the East got together today in Greenville to discuss the challenges they face in communicating weather risks.

John Cole, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Newport, explains:

”We want to tell people when it’s gonna happen, what it’s gonna be, how long it’s gonna last, and I think that’s the most important information you can really get out.”

The group discussed how aware people are when hazardous weather strikes. The early October flooding in Carteret County was one event that got a closer look.

”It was right when schools were letting out so it was a big impact across the entire county, and there were cars that were flooded and school buses were having issues,” said Cole.

Carteret County uses the CodeRED emergency alert system. Anyone in the county can sign up and be alerted to severe weather. After a few hours with rainfall rates of nearly three inches an hour, widespread flash flooding inundated the county. The National Weather Service did send out an alert for the flooding, but since it wasn’t a flash flood warning, it was never sent out via the CodeRED system. Many people were unaware of how immediate the danger was.

”It did probably catch people off guard because they were having to get their kids at school,” said Cole. “The school buses were in route so I think the impact was a lot greater because of when it occurred.”

Thankfully no one was hurt, but the hope is that this can inspire better coordination amongst everyone.

”I think that we need to think about terminology that we’re using in getting that information out, and perhaps focusing on the impacts rather than the event,” says Dr. Burrell Montz, chair of the ECU Department of Geography.

The National Weather Service hopes to take the feedback received today and improve how they release information to everyone.

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