Florida Division of Emergency Management and Florida Association of Broadcasters Host Inaugural Local News and Meteorology Communications Summit
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - Today, the Florida Division of Emergency Management (Division) and Florida Association of Broadcasters (FAB) hosted the inaugural Local News and Meteorology Communications Summit bringing together top meteorologists, hurricane specialists, and communications experts to discuss collaboration and coordination on hurricane planning, preparedness, response, and recovery with a special emphasis on the enhancement of local news and meteorologist’s ability to communicate solidified messaging.
“The Division strives to improve how we communicate important preparedness and recovery information before, during, and after a significant weather event, such as a hurricane,” said Division Executive Director Kevin Guthrie. “This Summit is our opportunity to bring together the very best when it comes to forecasting and messaging so that we can continue to create innovative and cohesive communication strategies to educate Floridians.”
"For the people of Florida, there’s no more important relationship than the partnership between local TV and radio stations, local and state emergency management officials, and the Florida Division of Emergency Management,” said President and CEO of the Florida Association of Broadcasters Pat Roberts. “Together, they keep the public informed and educated, and thus prepared before, during, and after a hurricane or disaster hits. We are proud to partner with the Florida Division of Emergency Management on this first of its kind summit."
“Official forecasts for wind, rain, and storm surge caused by hurricanes have dramatically improved through the years, but fragmentation of messages and the ease with which contrary forecasts are shared have made it harder for residents and government officials to fully understand the threat and trigger action,” said Hurricane Specialist and FOX Weather contributor Bryan Norcross. “Only by working together can we solidify a system to maximize the clarity of the messages and minimize the distracting clutter.”
“By bringing together broadcast meteorologists, the emergency management community, and the National Hurricane Center to discuss effective approaches to communicate potential impacts from storm surge, flooding, rainfall, and wind, this summit will undoubtedly help Floridians to better prepare and respond ahead of future hurricane threats,” said Acting Branch Chief Daniel Brown with the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Specialist Unit.
“Even perfect forecasts and warnings from meteorologists, and timely evacuation instructions from emergency managers, are not enough if we don’t communicate effectively with the public such that people take actions, both well in advance and right before, during and after the storm, to protect their families,” said Dr. Rick Knabb with the Weather Channel. “The conversations we have as we head into the peak of the hurricane season are crucial to ensure everyone is ready for the next hurricane.”
“Hurricane messaging is all about the psychology of the receiver. We’re going to talk about how messaging hurricane warning information to address the psychological needs of people will help them take the best protective action possible,” said Dr. Laura Myers with the University of Alabama. “It’s all about the words, images, and explanations we use to capture their attention. Just using the words ‘emergency’ and ‘catastrophic’ have been proven to make a difference in people taking action.”
During the Summit, attendees listened to sessions on historic hurricane forecasting, watches and warnings as risk communications tools, communicating evacuation solutions, and the impact of weather on psychology and how to navigate complacency.