TROPICAL CYCLONE PUBLIC AWARENESS PROGRAMS: PREPARING FOR THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY
Principal Investigator: Howard A. Friedman
Collaborating Scientist: Diane J. Garcia
Objective: This project supports the World Meteorological Organization's
(WMO) Tropical Cyclone Programme (TCP). The objective is to prepare, for
publication, a generic international resource guide for the use of disaster
preparedness and emergency management officials, and educators who
will participate in creating awareness programs for the citizens of their
respective tropical cyclone-prone nations.
Rationale: Literally millions of lives are affected each year and billions
of dollars are lost as a result of tropical cyclones. During the period from
1980-1996, a total of 670 tropical cyclones, typhoons, and hurricanes
Over the past three decades significant advances have been made to
prepare for and mitigate the damaging effects of tropical cyclones.
Concerted international efforts have resulted in a better understanding of
tropical cyclones. Technical advances in weather monitoring equipment
now enable scientists to vigilantly monitor tropical cyclones as they
form, track them as they move, and predict, with some accuracy, where
they are likely to impact people and property.
While great strides have been made to understand and live with tropical
cyclones, still more must be done. We must expand our basic knowledge,
upgrade the tools needed for monitoring and prediction, improve the
warning and communications systems, and strengthen meteorological
services. The need for continued effort is reconfirmed by the deaths
and destruction left in the wake of each tropical cyclone that affects
populated areas today -- a problem that will undoubtedly increase as
coastal populations continue to grow.
The goal of preventing loss of life and reducing property damage from
tropical cyclones, however, cannot be achieved solely through improved
meteorological services. Loss of life and property can only be minimized
if officials and the general public are knowledgeable about the hazards
faced, understand the warnings provided, and take the proper steps to
protect life and property before, during, and after a tropical cyclone event.
The process to achieve this state of readiness is accomplished with the
help of an awareness program. The resource guide provides a framework
for the development, modification, and implementation of local tropical
cyclone awareness programs. The development of a resource guide as a
website on the World-Wide Web, would make the information more
accessible to a greater number of tropical cyclone-prone nations.
Method: The prototype for the resource guide is Tropical Cyclone
Programme Project No. 14: A Resource Guide for United Nations Members
of Tropical-Cyclone-Prone Regions (Friedman and Ressler, 1983). The
original guide has been revised and updated. The Internet was used
extensively to obtain up-to-date information on worldwide issues
concerning tropical cyclones. The guide's design encourages
interactive use by disaster preparedness and emergency management
officials and educators. By providing questionnaires and checklists,
officials and educators can assess the viability of their nation's or
region's tropical cyclone awareness programs and, where appropriate,
create new or modify
existing programs. The chapters on tropical cyclone meteorology are
being updated; and, an FAQ (frequently asked questions) section (after
Landsea, 1997) is included as an appendix.
Accomplishments: A manuscript, Tropical Cyclone Awareness
Programmes: Preparing for the Twenty-First Century, is nearing
completion. The WMO has continued to express its interest in
publishing the final manuscript. A paper describing the project has
been accepted for presentation at the Seventh Symposium on Education-
AMS, Phoenix,Arizona, January 11-16, 1998.
Other Work In Progress: An interactive website for hurricane awareness,
to be used by educators and by the general public, is being planned. A
grant proposal, to partially support this effort, was submitted to the
Department of Community Affairs Division of Emergency Management in
Tallahassee, Florida. If successful, funds would be used to develop a pilot
project for the coastal counties of Florida. The website will contain
material that supports and enhances the curriculum objectives of the
State of Florida. The website will be used to increase knowledge of
hurricanes as geophysical events and, to deal with socio-psychological
aspects of the hurricane problem in Florida, including preparedness and
mitigation issues. The program will include interactive lessons, quizzes,
and simulations. The initial effort will be in English; later, Spanish and
Haitian versions are envisioned.
If the program is successful, plans are to enhance the scope of the
material on the website to include site specific examples of hurricane
problems in coastal states westward along the Gulf of Mexico to Texas
and along the Atlantic coast northward to Maine.
Cook, R. A., and M. Soltani, eds., 1992: Hurricanes of 1992: Lessons
Learned and Implications for the Future. Proceedings of a Symposium by
the American Society of Civil Engineers, Dec. 1-3, 1993, New York, NY.
"Disaster Mitigation in Asia and the Pacific" Asian Development Bank,
Manila, Philippines, 1991.
Elsberry, R. L., ed., 1995: Global Perspectives on Tropical Cyclones
Tropical Cyclone Programme, Report No. TCP