National Weather Service testing new hazard system
NOAA’s National Weather Service in Seattle will begin testing a new “Beach Hazards Statement” to provide a single location for all coastal and beach hazards information, including the expected timing and impacts of the hazard and recommended actions for preparedness and safety.
The agency launched a Weather-Ready Nation initiative in 2011 that has spurred improvements in communicating risks to the public for many types of hazards. This initiative was prompted when Weather Service staff realized that many rescues, injuries and deaths in coastal areas were related to beach hazards not currently addressed in official watches, warnings and advisories. The new statement will include information on routine coastal hazards, such as rip currents, and unusual ecological hazards identified by NOAA’s National Ocean Service.
Seattle is one of six National Weather Service forecast offices that will begin piloting the new tool, along with Grand Rapids, Mich.; San Francisco Bay Area, Calif.; Newport/Morehead City, N.C.; New Orleans/Baton Rouge, La.; and Tampa Bay, Fla.
Beach Hazards Statements will inform the public about a wide range of hazards, including rip currents and rough seas, unusually cold water temperatures, and potential for lightning along the shoreline. The statement also may include non-weather related hazards impacting beaches such as potentially unsafe marine debris.
Before possibly expanding this initiative to other parts of the country, the agency will gauge the value of the new service.