The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service recently launched an initiative designed to protect ecologically valuable environments in the Tampa Bay area before, during and after severe weather and other disasters, an article on the NOAA’s website said.
The pilot project, called Weather-Ready Nation, will provide “enhanced decision and ecosystem support services to help protect residents and visitors in the Tampa Bay area,” the article also said.
“With hurricane season just around the corner, timely and accurate weather support is more critical than ever,” Bill Proenza, director of NOAA’s National Weather Service Southern Region, said, according to the article. “This project will allow the Tampa forecast office to respond to emergency managers during a storm or when handling a hazardous material spill, while maintaining normal weather forecast operations for area residents.”
The Tampa Bay area qualified for the pilot project because of the region’s diverse ecosystem, active cargo port, and its open-water estuary — the largest in the state — which supports more than 200 species of fish and the most diverse colonies of waterbirds in the country. Additionally, the region was chosen because billions of gallons of hazardous materials pass through Tampa Bay each year.
Emergency Response Specialists assigned to the National Weather Service office in Tampa will collaborate with local port authorities and local environmentalists to expand on support services that focus on environmental and public health issues. Initial projects include developing a Marine Route Forecast, enhancing current Harmful Algal Bloom forecasts, improving the local provision of storm surge warning information, and developing graphical smoke plume and visibility hazard forecasts.
“These collaborations and new products will serve to mitigate future risk and impact from hurricane storm surge, environmental and ecological effects in the Gulf of Mexico, and provide safety and high-impact weather information for marine navigation through the Port,” Brian LaMarre, meteorologist-in-charge of the Tampa forecast office, said, according to the article.
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