Wednesday, January 19, 2011

From Katrina to snowmageddon: lessons government should learn

Matthew E. Kahn, a guest blogger in the Christian Science Monitor: … Consider the Nashville Floods of 2010. Source "The National Weather Service failed to warn of major flooding in Nashville in the spring until after it had already taken place, and residents did not heed warnings because they didn't reflect the urgency of the flooding, which killed 22 people around the state, a new report shows.

The report released by the weather service on Wenesday found that the agency's river forecasters ignored two models that showed more accurate flood predictions for the Cumberland River. Instead forecasters favored a model that relied on inaccurate and untimely information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The weather service continued to use that data despite observations on the ground that proved their flood predictions were inaccurate."

…"The report also criticizes the wording of the flood warnings. On April 30, the weather service's Southern Regional headquarters sent an e-mail to local weather offices reminding them of the option to use "Flash Flood Emergency" in their warnings to the public. But the Nashville office never used the term "flood emergency," despite "the many reports of catastrophic flooding, water rescues, and even fatalities" the report states. And the report found that staffing levels were inadequate for the emergency.

…The assessment notes that progress has been made in interagency communication and cooperation. Haynes also said that high-resolution flood maps are being developed for the Nashville area that will show down to the street level where flooding is expected."…

May 10, 2010, in downtown Nashville, shot by Keith Gallagher, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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