NWS Director talks hurricane prep and new Virginia position
State officials will soon have access to additional federal resources when it comes to weather and emergency preparedness.
Representatives from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, the National Weather Service and the Federal Emergency Management Agency were in Roanoke Thursday to talk about hurricane preparedness.
Shawn Talmadge is the State Coordinator of Emergency Management.
“Hurricanes and the flooding caused by the remnants of hurricanes is a statewide problem and everyone must take action to prepare for that," Talmadge says. "It’s not just an emergency management issue, it’s not a Weather Service issue, it’s not a FEMA issue – it’s everyone must take action to prepare.”
Those efforts include a new inland flooding guide for Virginia residents.
“And we evaluated Virginia and said, ‘How do we need to communicate with our residents?’ And there is some nuances to it – like we don’t necessarily have flood zones like we do in coastal Virginia – so there are some nuances to the inland flooding threat and so that guide just lays that all out,” Talmadge says.
Flooding is the number one killer in hurricanes and tropical systems, so it’s vitally important to have a plan regardless of where you live in the Commonwealth.
And the National Weather Service is going even further. Ken Graham is director of the agency – and he says an NWS meteorologist will soon be embedded in the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. He says that will be vital in the lead up to not only hurricanes – but any significant weather event.
“For a Weather Service meteorologist to sort that information to say, ‘Look, this is what it really means to you.’ That helps the timeline," he says. "If I could give another six hours, 12 hours, 24 hours on a timeline for an emergency manager – that’s an eternity. Think about the things that can be done from resources to evacuations – that type of thing.”
Graham says the National Weather Service is also working on other key initiatives. Those include updating its website, providing two-day flooding inundation maps and translating its warnings and information to the most-spoken languages in this country within six years.