National Weather Service Roadmap 2.0 leads the way to a Weather-Ready Nation

Date Posted: April 24, 2013

On April 24, 2013, NOAA’s National Weather Service, in partnership with the National Weather Service Employees Organization (NWSEO), released The Weather-Ready Nation Roadmap 2.0.  The updated Roadmap blends an understanding of social and physical sciences and lends itself to building community resilience in the face of increasing vulnerability to extreme weather and water events. After achieving the goals of the Weather-Ready Nation Roadmap, NWS will empower emergency managers, first responders, government officials, businesses, and the public to make faster, smarter decisions to save lives and protect livelihoods.

“The NWS recognizes that issuing excellent forecasts and warnings may not always be enough to save lives,” said NWS Director Louis W. Uccellini.  “The Weather-Ready Nation initiative is first and foremost to save lives and protecting livelihoods by providing useful, relevant, actionable information on for critical decision support services.”

The WRN Roadmap 2.0 incorporates comments from the 2012 National Academy of Sciences study, NWSEO, NOAA and NWS leadership, and the public.  This updated version is also more inclusive of NWS international activities in underlying concepts, objectives, and goals across the entire document.  In addition, there are more details that capture the National Centers for Environmental Protection’s (NCEP) role in Impact-Based Decision Support Services (IDSS) in contributing to a Common Operating Picture across the NWS.

Across the U.S. in 2011, powerful tornadoes and other storms claimed more than 1,000 lives and caused more than $55 billion in damage despite timely and accurate forecasts. This Roadmap puts the NWS on a path to measure its efforts based on the extent to which people responded effectively to its warnings, and not solely by the accuracy and timeliness of its forecast.

The Roadmap reiterates a commitment to working with the Weather Enterprise and the plan provides the agency an ability to meet new challenges over the coming years through a flexible and agile business structure.  The four particular areas that guide the agency towards achieving its strategic goals are through advancements in Business, Services, Workforce, and Science and Technology.  

  • The Business Plan defines strategic business and operating goals, and is thought of as high-level, enduring principles that shape operation of the agency.
  • The Services Plan addresses emerging needs for NWS services to incorporate a better understanding of social and physical sciences and how the agency must change the nature of our information services from transmitting information in discrete messages to helping core partners understand the spectrum of information in order for them to make good decisions for Impact-Based Decision Support Services (IDSS).
  • The Workforce Evolution Plan lays out a framework for the evolution of the NOAA workforce – the agency’s most important asset – as we enhance IDSS, extending capability to provide services that are superior to those provided today.
  • The Science and Technology Plan address the improvements and advances in science and technology needed to generate and deliver environmental information to realize the vision of a Weather-Ready Nation.

From 2009-2012, NOAA’s NWS deliv­ered lifesaving weather forecasts and warnings for an unprecedented spate of record-breaking weather: more than 770 major tornadoes; 70 Atlantic hurricanes and tropical storms; 6 major floods; 3 tsunamis; historic drought in much of the United States; prolonged heat waves; and record snowfall and blizzards across the country. Constant improvements in our forecasting capabilities and the expertise of our meteorologists and hydrologists na­tionwide have enabled NWS to deliver warnings often with greater lead times and accuracy than ever before.

The Roadmap ensures the NWS remains relevant and timely in the provision of services and data to customers on impact based decisions related to weather.  As the process of implementing actions within the Roadmap continue, aspects will be incorporated into execution plans like the NOAA/NWS Annual Operating Plan, ongoing WRN Goal Planning, NOAA and NWS Research Plans and other appropriate mechanisms. The Roadmap is intended to be a living document and further refinements will be made as necessary.

The WRN Roadmap 2.0 incorporates feedback from a variety of sources, including NWS employees, other NOAA employees, the general public, the Weather Enterprise and independent entities such as the National Academy of Sciences.

Download the Weather-Ready Nation Roadmap 2.0 (pdf)

Questions or comments on Roadmap 2.0 can be directed to NWS.Roadmap@noaa.gov.