NOAA’s Weather Ready Nation

This press release from NOAA came in an email today. I’m not too impressed by the “2011 Ties Record for Billion Dollar Disasters” statement because as inflation and property values rise, so will monetary estimates for “most expensive disaster year”. It is a given, yet alarmists who have no sense of history and economics will dutifully use such numbers without explanations as to adjusted damages to make their case of “worst ever”.

NOAA’s National Weather Service taking action to build a ’Weather-ready’ nation

2011 Ties Record for Billion Dollar Disasters

NOAA is launching a comprehensive initiative to build a “Weather-ready” nation to make America safer by saving more lives and protecting livelihoods as communities across the country become increasingly vulnerable to severe weather events, such as tornado outbreaks, intense heat waves, flooding, active hurricane seasons, and solar storms that threaten electrical and communication systems.

 

NOAA is also announcing that the United States has so far this year experienced nine separate disasters, each with an economic loss of $1 billion or more — tying the record set in 2008. The latest event to surpass the $1 billion price tag is this summer’s flooding along the Missouri and Souris rivers in the upper Midwest. This year’s losses have so far amounted to $35 billion.

“Severe weather represents a very real threat to public safety that requires additional robust action,” said Jack Hayes, director of NOAA’s National Weather Service. “The increasing impacts of natural disasters, as seen this year, are a stark reminder of the lives and livelihoods at risk.”

 

In partnership with other government agencies, researchers, and the private sector, the National Weather Service is charting a path to a weather-ready nation through:

  • Improved precision of weather and water forecasts and effective communication of risk to local authorities;
  • Improved weather decision support services with new initiatives such as the development of mobile-ready emergency response specialist teams;
  • Innovative science and technological solutions such as the nationwide implementation of Dual Pol radar technology, Integrated Water Resources Science and Services, and the Joint Polar Satellite System;
  • Strengthening joint partnerships to enhance community preparedness;
  • Working with weather enterprise partners and the emergency management community to enhance safety and economic output and effectively manage environmental resources.

 

The National Weather Service is also planning innovative, community-based test projects across the country, ranging in focus from emergency response to ecological forecasting, to enhance the agency’s preparedness efforts to better address the impacts of extreme weather. Test projects will initially be launched at strategic locations in the Gulf Coast, South and mid-Atlantic.

 

“These test projects serve as tangible examples of how the National Weather Service is trying to address the impact of weather-related disasters,” said Hayes. “Ultimately, these projects will provide the specific action plans necessary for us to adapt to extreme weather events and represent an important step in building a weather-ready nation.”

 

In the past 30 years, the United States has experienced a total of 108 weather-related disasters that have caused more than $1 billion dollars in damages. Overall, these disasters have resulted in three-quarters of $1 trillion in standardized losses since 1980, according to NOAA records.

 

According to Munich Reinsurance America, one of the top providers of property and casualty reinsurance in the U.S., the number of natural disasters has tripled in the last 20 years and 2010 was a record breaker with about 250. Average thunderstorm losses have increased five-fold since 1980. For the first half of 2011 there have been $20 billion in thunderstorm losses, up from the previous three-year average of $10 billion.

This increase in weather-related disasters coupled with population growth and density in high-risk areas, has moved NOAA and its partners — from the emergency management community and across America’s weather enterprise — from concern to action.

“Building a Weather-ready nation is everyone’s responsibility,” said Eddie Hicks, IAEM USA president. “It starts with National Weather Service and emergency managers, like the U.S. Council of International Association of Emergency Managers, but it ends with actions by individuals and businesses to reduce their risks. The more prepared communities are for destructive weather, the less of a human and economic toll we’ll experience in the future, and that’s a great thing for the country.”

“The partnership between the government, private, and academic sectors, all represented in the professional membership of the American Meteorological Society, is extremely strong and is essential in achieving this vision,” said Jonathan Malay, president of  the AMS. “Given the resources to grow our scientific understanding of our complex environment through observations and research and to apply this knowledge in serving society, we can do amazing things together.”

NOAA’s National Weather Service is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories. NOAA’s National Weather Service operates the most advanced weather and flood warning and forecast system in the world, helping to protect lives and property and enhance the national economy. Visit us online at weather.gov and on Facebook.

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on Facebook , Twitter and our other social media channels.

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46 thoughts on “NOAA’s Weather Ready Nation

  1. “increasingly vulnerable to severe weather events, such as tornado outbreaks, intense heat waves, flooding, active hurricane seasons, and solar storms that threaten electrical and communication systems.”

    And of those specified disasters, there’s been no increase in the numbers hurricanes, major tornadoes (Probably minor ones too, if you correct for the improved ability to “discover” them) and heatwaves.
    Money spent on planning to deal with a new “Carrington Event” is probably well-spent.

    “population growth and density in high-risk areas”

    That’s more likely the issue, a “Manchester” tornado cutting a swaithe through the fields of Tornado Alley isn’t going to do that much damage, one carving through Chattanooga is going to be resulting in a very diffferent story.

  2. Flooding:
    The development of tile drainage of farmland over the past half century and other drainage projects have greatly reduced the soil’s storage capacity and must be a serious factor in flooding.

    Storm Damage:
    The slimming down of construction materials with such things as 2 3/4 inch by 1 1/2 inch “two by fours”, particle board, vinyl and aluminum siding, and expansion of trailer parks in tornado and hurricane prone areas is an important factor. Remember the “Three Little Pigs” and remember that plantation houses and other 200+yr old structures have withstood it all. I wrote to the Gov of Florida some year ago and asked why they didn’t beef up the building codes – I got no response,

    Perhaps NOAA should not have a program that just has people strive against the given conditions but rather should advise on how to bolster the conditions

  3. Hey, I am, all for increased disaster preparations! A nation should always remain vigilant and prepared. It is the Eagle Scout way.

    However, this is, as much true today, as it was for our ancestors, of all times past. No more, no less. GK

  4. “…….as communities across the country become increasingly vulnerable to severe weather events, such as tornado outbreaks, intense heat waves, flooding, active hurricane seasons, and solar storms that threaten electrical and communication systems.”

    and just how have NOAA quantified this increasing vulnerability to communities?

    Dolts.

  5. Gary Pearse

    “Remember the “Three Little Pigs” and remember that plantation houses and other 200+yr old structures have withstood it all.”

    I had an F3 bop past a few years ago, and I was in one of those old houses. It had been added on to over the years. As the thing sheared off all the pines 20 feet up, yanked out the 125 year old pecans and the 50 year old cedar next to the house, only the front part of the house had the roof taken off. That was the newer portion of the structure, being only about 30 years old. Not a fun ride, and to this day the wife freaks out at any storm within 50 miles. But the observation is valid. Building practices to make a difference.

  6. heh heh – in other news, apparently Rick Perry is a reader of this blog!

    All the establishment noses are appropriately out of joint at the suggestion that some of the data may have been faked. How dare he say that? Sacrilege!

  7. AleaJactaEst says:
    August 17, 2011 at 12:17 pm
    “…….as communities across the country become increasingly vulnerable to severe weather events, such as tornado outbreaks, intense heat waves, flooding, active hurricane seasons, and solar storms that threaten electrical and communication systems.”

    and just how have NOAA quantified this increasing vulnerability to communities?

    Dolts.

    When it comes to flooding along the Missouri, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers gets much of the blame for mismanaging the river. Since the government is involved, it’s easy to predict it won’t get any better.

  8. So what does NOAA really stand for?

    Never Obtained Atmospheric Accuracy?

    Nefaraiously Obtained Amazing Amounts?

  9. If I were emperor, I’d do one thing above all: Rigorously enforce good metrology on all scientists, economists and media. Any story or study that includes dollar amounts must be adjusted for inflation; anything involving growth or comparisons must be in percent instead of linear measurement. If a baseline is relevant, the story must be done wrt the baseline.

    Even aside from inflation, ALL human senses and judgments run on a percentage basis. Using linear numbers is always deceptive whether intentional or not.

  10. I’m not particularly fond of tying economic loss to extreme weather events then inferring the weather broke the record. The following experiment proves my point:

    1) Take a huge bulldozer and run it across an empty lot. Calculate the damage.
    2) Now build a house on the empty lot and run the same bulldozer across it again and calculate the damage.

    Results: 1) No damage. 2) $400,000 in damages (assuming the value of the house to be $400,000).

    Questions:

    1) How does the bulldozer relate to the difference in the cost of damages between experiment 1 and 2 above?
    2) Would you say that experiment 2 set a record?
    3) What would you say is the overriding factor in the difference in damages between experiment 1 and 2 above?

    Answers:

    1) No attributes relating to the bulldozer had anything to do with the cost of damages.
    2) Yes, experiment 2 broke a record in damages.
    3) Some idiot built a house on a lot they knew would be overrun by a huge bulldozer.

    Extrapolation and Conclusion:

    Economic loss is more tied to land use. If you build new houses or costly structures along seafront known to be hit by storms, below 100 year floodlines, in known tornado alleys, on top of fault zones, in locations where environmentalists managed to prohibit clearing of underbrush close to homes, etc… you can expect that every few years record losses will be recorded when mother nature does her usual thing.

  11. I’m all for government agencies trying to identify weather patterns that expose people to danger, certainly there are events that are missed or are greater in force than expected. Note this article does not mention anything about GHG or other causes, rather it is focused on being ready for these events as they occur in areas where population density is increasing.

    Seems like a good plan to me.

    Here in Canada the federal conservative government – think Republicans without the Tea Party – are cutting way back environmental spending in a cost cutting venture. Tell that to the farmers, truckers, sailors, pilots, etc who need reliable accurate information to protect their lives, livelihoods, and the people that count on them.

  12. @Beesaman. Please allow me to modestly recommend, “Warnings: The True Story of How Science Tamed the Weather” if you do not believe meteorologists are accurate.

  13. From the press release:
    “Average thunderstorm losses have increased five-fold since 1980.”
    =======
    Last year 4-5 different roofing companies wanted to re-roof my suburban Chicago house.
    They rang the doorbell, and inferred that insurance would cover the cost of re-shingling the house.
    Our area got some hail, but nothing damaging on my house.
    Now, this was during the depths of the recession, so I was nice to the roofers who were just looking for work.
    I did make mention to one of them, just who they thought would ultimately pay for my new roof.
    The man said it was covered by insurance (or something).
    Many new roofs put on last year, who paid for them ? Ultimately ?

  14. I wonder how Munich Re derived their claim that natural disasters have tripled in the last twenty years . I would believe that claims hve increased three fold , but not the number of diasters . As I’m close to sixty years old , I would have noticed .

  15. this (at least partly) manmade flood caused billions of dollars of damage:

    3 Aug: Australian: Hedley Thomas: Wivenhoe engineer slams operating manual
    The civil engineer, who supervised construction of Wivenhoe Dam for seven years in the 1980s, was at first a staunch defender of the dam and its operation during January’s floods.
    As Brisbane reeled from the damage to more than 17,000 homes and businesses, Mr Chalmers criticised those he regarded as armchair experts with hindsight wisdom.
    But he began to harbour doubts when Seqwater, the operator of the government-owned dam, kept insisting it followed its operating manual at all times. Mr Chalmers examined the manual and concluded it should be consigned to a “ritual burning”.
    The retired dam-builder started testing what would have happened if Wivenhoe had been operated in January without any reliance on the manual…
    He said yesterday that a simple conservative strategy would have resulted in a maximum release at the height of the flood event of 3350cu m a second. This is less than half the actual 7500cu m/s release, which produced a massive flood wave in the Brisbane River and contributed to the inundation of thousands of properties…
    The difference between what Mr Chalmers modelled and what occurred in January is he began releases from the dam early. He kept releases below 3500cu m/s, the threshhold at which structural damage in Brisbane is known to occur. “It can be done with simplicity and precision by going back to basic principles to get the water in the dam away quickly by opening the gates early,” he said.
    “It does not need committees and vast manuals. That is part of the problem with Wivenhoe — it has been overly complicated. The beauty of my operational procedure is its brevity and simplicity. Critics will no doubt say this offering is simplistic, the rantings and ravings of a grumpy old luddite.
    “This may contain some elements of truth, but remember that many a good tune comes from an old fiddle.”…

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/wivenhoe-engineer-slams-operating-manual/story-e6frg6nf-1226106995017

    one of the State Premier’s Ministers was criticised in the Interim Flood Inquiry report for his part in the Wivenhoe Dam fiasco. however, the Premier, politically on the skids prior to the floods, was dubbed a hero by the MSM for her handling of the floods and temporarily improved her position in the polls. Scholastica’s revisionist version is already in the schools!

    17 Aug: Braidwood Times: Words and pictures raise thousands
    On the 2nd August the Premier of Queensland Anna Bligh launched a new picture book ‘Flood’ by local author Jackie French and illustrator Bruce Whatley at the State Library of Queensland. Brisbane born French was especially moved by the flood disaster in Queensland in January which caused an estimated $30 billion in damage and decided to do something to help.
    Published by Scholastica, ‘Flood’ has already raised over $110,000 for The Premier’s Flood Disaster Relief Appeal. Funds raised by the book will go to replenish flood-affected Queensland school libraries and Scholastic Australia has also given a complimentary copy of the book to every Australian primary school library…

    http://www.braidwoodtimes.com.au/news/local/news/general/words-and-pictures-raise-thousands/2260258.aspx

    Scholastica has form!

    Scholastica: 2010 – Science: The Magic School Bus and the Climate Challenge
    by Joanna Cole, Bruce Degen
    Like it or not, global warming is a hot topic, and it will affect the younger generation the most. So why not turn to the teacher kids like the most, Ms. Frizzle! Only the Friz can boil all the hoopla down to the scientific facts in a fun and informative way.
    With trademark simplicity and wit, Joanna Cole explains why the earth is getting warmer, and Bruce Degen’s bright, action-filled illustrations make the science easy to understand and fun to learn. This team brings a new, improved understanding to climate change, engaging kids and empowering all. Teachers will cheer!…
    A note from Joanna Cole:
    While I was writing The Magic School Bus and the Climate Change Challenge, all I could think about was the kids who will read it. I wanted to give them hope. More than that, I wanted to tell them how their own actions as children can help solve the crisis of global warming. You will see a real blueprint for this in the book.
    Our young readers will be voters before we know it, and educating them today will influence their actions as they grow older. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if The Magic School Bus could help change the climate for the better?

    http://books.google.com/books/about/The_Magic_School_Bus_and_the_Climate_Cha.html?id=DX8QTkEeiDAC

  16. Interest to note no correction on erroneous claim regarding the values not being adjusted…

    Hmmm .

  17. Bystander says:
    August 17, 2011 at 2:37 pm
    Did you guys miss the “In standardized losses” part?
    ============
    So, you are an insurance adjuster ?
    Or, just a cherry picker ?
    Care to explain your comment ?

  18. Yeah Smokey – what does accuracy of claims made matter here, right? Doesn’t seem to slow you down for example….

  19. @ (U.K.) US – now don’t go and get all ornery on me now for pointing out the fundamental error. I’m just being a skeptic.

    The quote is from the very same document referenced above – and the “standardized” means inflation adjusted. Took all of 15 seconds to verify that.

    And it is hugely important based on the assertion made.

  20. Oh – and NOW you take issue with cherry picking? Ha – double standard much?

    Especially since that isn’t cherry picking – it is fundamental to the assertion.

  21. Who made NOAA Captain America? Unless they are talking about the US budget …. Oh, wait, there hasn’t been a budget in three Democrat years. They”re too busy looting the joint.

  22. Yes CodeTech, +1. You would be the first to gripe about the AGW crowd ignoring points made by those sympathetic to your beliefs, but it’s +1 for you guys to ignore someone making a salient point.

  23. Bystander says:
    August 17, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    Did you guys miss the “In standardized losses” part?

    Well, if that’s the case then damages should be at an all time low…given what the housing market is.

    That tends to indicate that the data if fudged on the part of NOAA.

  24. The cost data was corrected for inflation, that is what they mean by standardized. @SSam, That does not mean the data was fudged. It means they removed the effect of inflation. What rate do you think they used for the inflation rate and how do you think it was indexed?

  25. Anthony says: I’m not too impressed by the “2011 Ties Record for Billion Dollar Disasters” statement because as inflation and property values rise, so will monetary estimates for “most expensive disaster year”.

    Several readers have expressed the same thought. The trouble is, a) the losses are standardized to 2011 dollars, and b) the number of natural disasters have also tripled over the last 20 years according to Munich Re. See their presentation at http://www.munichreamerica.com/webinars/2011_07_natcatreview/MR_III_2011_HalfYear_NatCat_Review.pdf. A description of how they compile their database can be found here: http://www.ccap.org/docs/resources/345/302-03901_en.pdf. The project began in 1974 so the tripling in reported natural disasters cannot obviously be attributed to the lack of historical records. I’m sure there is some kind of error in their reporting, but I’ll leave it to more knowledgeable people to flush it out. All I know is, Munich Re has a strong financial incentive to report such trends since increased risk = higher premiums.

  26. Mike Abbott says:
    August 17, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    All I know is, Munich Re has a strong financial incentive to report such trends since increased risk = higher premiums.

    They are measuring loss events. This does not mean weather events, and a good deal of these events are earthquake/tsunami related.

  27. Bystander says:
    August 17, 2011 at 3:45 pm
    @ (U.K.) US – now don’t go and get all ornery on me now for pointing out the fundamental error. I’m just being a skeptic.

    The quote is from the very same document referenced above – and the “standardized” means inflation adjusted. Took all of 15 seconds to verify that.
    =====
    Now we are getting somewhere, can you now explain “inflation adjusted”.

  28. Wait – so “follow the corporate money” is suddenly now relevant? To dismiss Munch RE requires that Heartland and anyone related to be dismissed, no?

    Seems like a lot double standards being applied here…

    Hmmmm.

  29. Also, with regards to Mike Abbott’s concerns, disasters (loss events) in other countries are likely to be more costly than they were years ago, as these economies develop. This does not have any bearing on the 9 $1 billion plus disaster prices in the US. Still, the rising dollar figures of disasters is a poor proxy for the destructive power of a disaster because things like population density, increased usage of fixed assets in once manual labor processes, expanding insurance coverage on property, etc. all have an effect on what would be reported as a loss event, and what the damage that would be reported is. Especially consider the use of, and insuring of, fixed assets to replace human labor.

  30. David Falkner says:
    August 17, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    They are measuring loss events. This does not mean weather events, and a good deal of these events are earthquake/tsunami related.

    Actually, it DOES mean weather events. According to charts in the Munich Re presentation I referenced above, earthquake/tsunami/volcano-related events have remained relatively flat over the 30-year period and, in any case, make up a very small percentage of total natural disasters (~5% or so.) All of the increase is in storms, floods, droughts and forest fires.

  31. David Falkner says:
    August 17, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    Also, with regards to Mike Abbott’s concerns, disasters (loss events) in other countries are likely to be more costly than they were years ago, as these economies develop. …

    Actually, my concern is not with the economics but with the claim that the number of natural disasters has tripled in the last 20 years (and quadrupled over the last 30 years if you believe their data) and that all of the increase is in weather/climate events. That begs the question, how does Munich Re define a “natural disaster”? They answer that in the report on their methodology at http://www.ccap.org/docs/resources/345/302-03901_en.pdf, pages 6 and 7. They claim that their methodology “helps to avoid any distortions resulting from the superior global information channels of today (internet, news agencies).”

  32. Weather forecasters are kidding themselves on their ability to predict. Yes, they’re getting better, but they don’t have the precision they’d like to think they have.

    For example, I regularly check weather.com, sometimes several times a day. It’s amusing to watch the expected high / low and chance of precipitation change continuously almost from hour to hour.

    I understand the chaotic nature of weather (and climate), and how difficult their job is. So, although the forecast high may change within 18 hours from 80 to 85 degrees, it’s close enough for my purposes.

    I just wish they would observe their own forecasts, in order to maintain the proper level of humility.

  33. Bystander says:
    August 17, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    Wait – so “follow the corporate money” is suddenly now relevant? To dismiss Munch RE requires that Heartland and anyone related to be dismissed, no?

    Seems like a lot double standards being applied here…

    Hmmmm.

    Was “follow the corporate money” ever irrelevant? Let’s expand that to “follow the money” in general and include government funding. I’ll readily dismiss Heartland and anyone related to it if you dismiss anyone who receives government funding for climate research.

  34. @ Bob Shapiro. We do “observe our own forecasts.” I cannot speak for weather.com. I can tell you that we take accuracy very seriously at WeatherData and AccuWeather.

    See above where I recommend my book (feel free to get it at the library or the ebook if you don’t wish to spring for the hardcover) and you’ll learn quite about how the storm warning system we take for granted came to be and how accurate it has become. And, don’t worry, “Warnings” is not a ‘science book.’ It is quick and enjoyable read.

  35. When dumb governments believe the AGW non sense they allow people to develope entire suburbs on flood plains, because the flooding rains are gone forever. When a four by two gets closer to a three by one, this is less than an advance on integrity of structures, especially when you live in tornado alley. These increased losses can be put back on local government stupidity and mandates from the federal government about water use. The fire problem is also local green government stupidity. Lessons from the past on locales of previous unkind events do not seem to matter to these new age governments, for obviously it is all our fault for living.

  36. Bystander,

    I agree, it takes about 15 seconds to see the ‘standardised’ reference.

    However, it didn’t take me much longer to see the following, which I believe is the clincher:
    “population growth and density in high-risk areas”

    Therefore, it’s nothing to do with the warmists claims that the frequency of storms has increased (it hasn’t), it’s just because people are daft enough go and build weak/cheap buildings in high-risk areas.

  37. This article hit the Denver paper today. I hate it when government treats us like a bunch of idiots. The timing of this release is clearly so NOAA’s programs don’t get the axe with the upcoming round of budget cuts & the use of AGW to scare people into supporting their budget. It is absolutely transparent , pathetic & patronizing. It is no wonder why this organization has little credibility.

  38. The Pielkes, Revkin, and others have advocated a strategy of adaptation. Consider the recent post about the futility of severe legislation against CO2. If action is still desired, what we’re left with is adaptation. The above post should be a welcome response across a broad audience that supports that. CAGW skeptics and believers can disagree about causation but ought to at least be able agree that adaptation isn’t all that bad an idea in a warmer world. I think only a subset of CAGW believers who value ecosystems over humanity would reject this.

  39. “Severe weather represents a very real threat to public safety that requires additional robust action,”

    From Harvey’s Dictionary (The one between his ears)

    Robust. Adj.1. Strongly formed, sturdy, powerful
    2. (In climate science) – Extremely expensive and of doubtful validity.

  40. The “standardized losses” referred to the total amounts since 1980:
    “Overall, these disasters have resulted in three-quarters of $1 trillion in standardized losses since
    1980, according to NOAA records.”
    That is the only mention of the word standardized.
    “NOAA is also announcing that the United States has so far this year experienced nine separate disasters, each with an economic loss of $1 billion or more — tying the record set in 2008.”
    Nope, no mention of the word standardized there.
    “In the past 30 years, the United States has experienced a total of 108 weather-related disasters that have caused more than $1 billion dollars in damages.”
    Nor there.
    They adjusted the total since 1980 for inflation, that is all.

    +3

  41. Reposting this note found here for those that missed it:

    REPLY: “Bystander is actually the banned troll “moderate republican” under a new fake name, fake email address, and fake connection. But I’m pretty good at spotting fakes, of which he is one. So don’t feed the troll – Anthony

  42. I realize this thread is about played out, but just came across this pertaining to flood losses (see tabs re: damages and fatalities), and thought some might find it interesting, in case they’re unaware of it:

    http://www.weather.gov/hic/

    There are links that also display the data in graph format.

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