The Florida Division of Emergency Management and Florida Association of Broadcasters recently hosted an inaugural summit on news and meteorology. The Local News and Meteorology Communications Summit brought together meteorologists, hurricane specialists and communications experts. They discussed how to collaborate and coordinate on planning for hurricanes, being prepare and how to respond to disasters. They also looked at ways to enhance communications between meteorologists and local news agencies.
Several news and weather experts in Florida attended the summit and offered beneficial insights into forging a way forward. President and CEO of the Florida Association of Broadcasters, Pat Roberts, recognised the importance of the relationship between local emergency management officials and TV and radio stations. He said that these professionals work together to keep the public informed, prepared and educated, before, during and after a hurricane or disaster.
Hurricane Specialist and FOX Weather contributor Bryan Norcross also underscored the importance of working together. He mentioned that although official forecasts for hurricane impacts have improved, there are some difficulties with accurate forecasts reaching residents and officials. This then delays responses to the threat, which is detrimental to to the preparation process. Norcross believes that working together can minimise distractions and thus allow information to be communicated efficiently.
There were also useful observations by Acting Branch Chief Daniel Brown with the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Specialist Unit, Dr. Rick Knabb from the Weather Channel and Dr. Laura Myers from the University of Alabama. They all agreed that effective communication is critical and there must be effective approaches to sharing messages about potential impacts. Hurricane messaging depends on the “psychology of the receiver”, so communication methods must meet the needs of those who are receiving the messages.
During the summit, there were sessions on historic hurricane forecasting, how to use watches and warnings as risk communication tools, how to communicate evacuation solutions, the impact of weather on psychology and how to deal with complacency.
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