Weather service pilot project to support Md. emergency officials

  • Carolyn Holley, at right, receives two free bags of ice from Baltimore Housing Authority employees after the June 29 derecho storm struck the region. Many were without power for as long as a week after the storm.
Carolyn Holley, at right, receives two free bags of ice from… (Amy Davis/Baltimore Sun )
September 24, 2012|By Scott Dance, The Baltimore Sun

The National Weather Service has launched a pilot project in the Baltimore and Washington, D.C., areas that aims to help local leaders better respond to weather emergencies, officials said Saturday.

As part of the initiative, the weather service has added three specialists who will be available to staff local emergency centers, like the Maryland Emergency Management Agency's command center, during extreme weather events.

Officials also plan to provide more information on how weather might impact society and how governments can prepare, better explanations of the possibilities within weather forecasts, and better maps of flood threats.

The pilot project, one of six across the country, is part of the weather service's initiative to build a "weather-ready" nation. Officials announced it at an open house of the weather service's Sterling, Va., office, which covers the Baltimore/Washington region.

The changes associated with the pilot project have been under way at the Sterling office, and it's not the first of its kind announced. A similar project was announced in the Tampa Bay area of Florida in May, ahead of hurricane season.

Given criticism of storm response in the Baltimore area this summer, the issue of storm preparation and information has been a key one here. The June 29 derecho storm that caused more than 1 million power outages across the state came without warning to many, though some weather-watchers had inklings of the chance for severe weather hours and days ahead of the storm.

Did you go to the weather service's open house in Sterling? The event also featured weather spotter training classes, activities for kids and weather experiments. Let me know what you learned and what you thought of the event.

Have a weather question? E-mail me at or tweet to @MdWeather.

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