September 17, 2014
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A useful storm of communications

Here’s a flash from the National Weather Service that won’t surprise you, given the winter we’ve had – “Americans live in the most severe weather-prone country on Earth.”

That’s what it reads, “most severe.” Might this be overstating conditions?

To back up the assertion, the Weather Service reports that on average, Americans cope with 100,000 thunderstorms, 10,000 of which are severe; 5,000 floods; 1,000 tornadoes; and an average of two deadly hurricanes that make landfall every year. To this, they add lethal winter storms, summer heat, high winds, wild fires and other severe weather.

Of the list, it would appear Little Rhody is least prone to wildfires, but otherwise we’ve had it all.

Naturally, the National Weather Service and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have a purpose to disseminate such information. They have designated this week as National Severe Weather Preparedness Week. And the point of that is to raise public awareness of severe weather threats and the importance of being prepared.

No question, with today’s media, news travels quickly and we can keep informed of developments whether on a regional scale or as close to us as our own backyards. During the recent blizzard, even those who had lost power were able to get updates on their smart phones and learn of developments from tweets and other social media postings. We are more connected than ever before, and not just simply to established news outlets, but also to those out in the storm.

One can only imagine how many lives might have been saved had today’s forecasting technology and network been in place at the time of the 1938 Hurricane.

Of course, such information is only valuable if used.

During this week, people are reminded to be prepared, and seeing that more snow is in the forecast once again, it seems appropriate. FEMA and the Weather Service aren’t suggesting a rush to buy bread and milk, although that’s always good to have in stock. Rather, they suggest turning to your computer and going to ready.gov/severeweather for a severe weather toolkit. Also recommended are www.twitter.com/femaregion1, http://blog.fema.gov, www.facebook.com/fema and www.youtube.com/fema. On Twitter, you can use the hashtags #ImPrepared and #ImAForce to show you've pledged to prepare and are taking the first step in preparing your family and friends for severe weather.

They have a few other ideas to spread the word, including creating a preparedness video and posting it on a video sharing site, posting your preparedness story through your social media network or commenting on a blog.

We may be living in the most severe weather prone country, but it seems we may also be living in one of the most communicative-prone environments. Here’s a good way for it to work to our advantage.


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