Meteorologists, emergency preparedness officials and members of the media from the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area gathered on Thursday to discuss how to communicate best with the public--and each other--when severe weather is approaching.
This was one of several workshops the National Weather Service's Miami-South Florida Forecast Office hosted to communicate about new data mapping tools ahead of hurricane season. National Weather Service meteorologists Pablo Santos and Robert Molleda answered questions on how accurately the models can advise people when a hurricane is imminent.
Santos said each year they review what worked from the previous year and what needs to be tweaked. "How do we want to coordinate?" he said. "How are we going to help each other out? How are we going to support each other?"
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting an "above normal" hurricane season, but meteorologist Robert Molleda said that doesn't tell us much.
"We know that South Florida is, historically speaking, the most hurricane-prone part of the country. Therefore, we have to be ready every year whether it's a below normal season, near normal or above normal," Molleda said.
New this year are storm surge watches and warnings. Along with other alerts, the public will now be specifically notified if they are in the zone of a potential life-threatening storm surge.
Kurt Sommerhoff is director of emergency management for Miami-Dade County. He attended the workshop and said the most vulnerable people are those who recently moved to the area.
"I always worry about complacency," he said. "There's a lot of new people here who have never experienced severe tropical weather."
Click here to find out if you are in an evacuation zone.
Click here to learn more about how to prepare for a hurricane.
Hurricane season begins June 1st.