Hello everyone. Thank you, Dr. Spinrad, for the introduction, and for having me here today. And thank you all for joining us.
Welcome to NOAA’s National Center for Weather and Climate Prediction.
At the Commerce Department, we are fully committed to NOAA’s mission to study, forecast, and issue watches, warnings, and other decision support for tropical systems in our ocean basins.
Here and in offices across the country, tireless work is being undertaken to forecast major storm systems – from the pilots who fly hurricane hunter aircraft that collect weather data to the scientists who use that data to track the patterns of severe weather events.
It’s no mistake that NOAA and the National Weather Service find their home in the Commerce Department.
Hurricanes – and the destruction they cause – can have devastating impacts to affected communities and local economies.
We know that recent hurricane seasons have been particularly busy, with three back-to-back La Nina events, which only increase the threat of hurricanes.
Last year alone, we saw 14 named storms accumulate – three of them hurricanes that hit the United States, causing a collective $117 billion in damages when adjusted for inflation.
The World Meteorological Organization retired the storm names of Fiona and Ian. Those destructive storms made landfall in Puerto Rico and Southwest Florida, respectively, and caused billions of dollars in damage. The increasing impacts and risks to U.S. communities from these destructive storms make the work of NOAA and its partners in government, the private sector, and NGOs all the more essential.
It is critical that this work goes a long way to better prepare the United States for storms and effectively address environmental, economic, and humanitarian impacts to help communities recover from these events.
To broaden the impact of NOAA’s work, we have to make continuous investments focused on innovation aimed at supporting NOAA’s ability to make accurate weather forecasts through:
- Implementing more powerful supercomputers;
- Developing upgraded forecast models;
- Extending NOAA’s decision support services to local officials who are responsible for public safety;
- Employing better satellite observations, including state-of-the-art GOES and polar-orbiting satellites; and
- Expanding community outreach to equip every community with the information they need to appropriately prepare and respond to potential hurricanes.
These investments are critical, because preparedness protects property, informs communities, and saves lives.
NOAA’s investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act – $6 billion in total – represent transformative opportunities to support all Americans, including vulnerable populations, in efforts to make our communities even more resilient to future weather and climate events.
Just last month, the Department of Commerce and NOAA announced $562 million in recommended funding for projects across the country to help make coastal communities more resilient to climate impacts through the Climate-Ready Coasts initiative.
These investments are a key part of NOAA’s efforts to build a Climate-Ready Nation, where our country’s prosperity, health, and safety benefit from understanding climate change and taking action at all levels to reduce climate impacts.
HURRICANE FORECASTING IMPROVEMENTS
As we continue to make advances in understanding and forecasting hurricanes and extreme weather, our scientists strive to learn from every storm and apply that knowledge to future storm analysis.
As a result, NOAA’s hurricane predictions are more accurate than they’ve ever been, based on advancements with our new hurricane model. Reanalysis of forecasts for storms from 2020 to 2022 has shown that today, forecast track accuracy has improved by 40 percent since 2017 and forecast intensity accuracy has improved by 46 percent. Since 2017, we’ve also improved the lead time for hurricane forecasts by 2 days; the 7-day track forecast now has the same accuracy as the 5-day track forecast. The lead time of our storm surge forecasts has also grown. Our 3-day advanced storm surge forecast today has the same accuracy as the previous 2-day forecast.
These additional days of preparedness can make all the difference in places like Florida or Puerto Rico in mitigating the destruction and saving countless lives.
These improvements not only make our country safer and more informed about hurricanes and their impact, but also speak to the importance of the work being accomplished each and every day by the dedicated individuals at NOAA.
As hurricane season approaches, the overarching message today is clear: NOAA is prepared for the upcoming season – now it’s time for communities to prepare as well.
It’s absolutely crucial that all Americans living in the potential paths of these storms – even well inland of the coast – follow NOAA’s guidance for preparation.
Determine your risk, develop an evacuation plan, and assemble the disaster supplies that you may need if a severe storm strikes.
Stay informed, and be ready to heed warnings from NOAA’s National Weather Service and your local emergency managers.
NOAA and the Department of Commerce stand ready to serve the nation before, during and after each storm, and ensure that communities have the resources they need to overcome the threat that hurricanes pose.
Thank you for joining us today, and thank you to NOAA for their continued service to make this country a safer place. With that, I’m pleased to turn it back over to Dr. Spinrad.
Originally posted at https://www.commerce.gov/news/speeches/2023/05/remarks-us-deputy-secretary-commerce-don-graves-noaas-atlantic-hurricane