MELBOURNE - There’s a lot of work that goes into meteorologists’ predictions for major storms, and that doesn’t just mean the path the storm could take. Scientists with the National Weather Service (NWS) are working around the clock to figure out what type of damage could occur in what areas.
Since so many important decisions are being made from the NWS facility in Melbourne, FOX 35 wanted to take a look at the station.
We found it’s largely what you’d expect – lots of computers, and different types of radar pulled up on large screens. Each meteorologist has a specific job, handling things like short-term forecasting or long-term, answering questions on social media, making predictions for air traffic control, and so on. All of them are focused on keeping us safe day in and day out. When a major storm heads our way, that kicks into high gear.
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Jessie Smith, a Meteorologist and Hydrologist with the NWS, says it’s important to keep in mind that Nicole is not going to be the same as Ian – they aren’t predicting heavy rainfall, but rather higher winds.
"We’ve really been looking at wave heights, beach conditions, and then also the threat for heavy rainfall potential and increasing levels along the St. John’s River," said Smith. "There’s already areas that are still sensitive after Ian’s impacts that haven’t fully recovered along the beach, so those will be even more sensitive to the impacts we’re expecting."
The folks at the National Weather Service work with other crews through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, checking in several times a day.
Together, they create their predictions, decide what alerts to send out, and figure out a plan to best protect the public.