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Identifying Warning Practices Across Key Partners During Landfalling Tropical Cyclones (LTC) and Storm Remnants 

By Rodolfo Hernández-Pérez & Jen Henderson
December 2022

On August 29, 2021, Hurricane Ida made landfall in Grand Isle (LA) as a Category 4 storm, leaving Louisiana's power grid shattered. During the next three days, the storm remnants followed a devastating path toward the Northeast, posing unseen challenges to public safety, infrastructure, and emergency response due to compound hazards of wind and flooding rains. Only in New York City, the National Weather Service (NWS) issued a first-ever flash flood emergency, which occurs in "exceedingly rare situations" when it becomes a "severe threat to human life." Across New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut, 43 people died, 13 of which lived in unregulated basement apartments in Queens (NYC). After more than a year of the catastrophic event, some places still suffer or pay the price of the damages and impacts.

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NWS tweet prior Hurricane Ida hit NYC. Source:

The complex scenarios faced by NWS forecasters, emergency managers, and broadcast meteorologists during events like Hurricane Ida, portray the new normal of weather emergencies characterized by overlapping hazards that defy current knowledge and practice of public response to extreme weather. As an example, when tornadoes co-occur with flash flooding during Landfalling Tropical Cyclones (LTCs), what we call TORFFs (Nielsen et al. 2015), warnings for each can contain contradictory advice that can complicate people's understanding of the threat that is most dangerous to them: warnings for tornadoes suggest individuals get to the lowest part of a structure and flash flooding suggest individuals get to the highest part of their home. While NWS forecasters assess and warn for threats like the ones witnessed during Ida, their core partners in broadcast meteorology and emergency management translate warnings to help individuals decide which threats and safety protocols are most important for people to take and when. Yet, little is understood about how these experts make sense of or communicate compound hazards, nor how the uncertainties during Covid-19 inform their knowledge about which populations are the most vulnerable.


A hypothetical TORRF situation is shared by in which a tornado and flash flood warnings are issued simultaneously for the exact location. Source:

The project "Improving Knowledge about NWS Forecaster Core Partner Needs for Reducing Vulnerability to Compound Threats in Landfalling Tropical Cyclones Amid Covid-19" (NOAA grant NA 210AR4590214), led by RED Lab, seeks to help NWS forecasters improve warning practices and decision support for core partners in emergency management and broadcast meteorology during compound hazards, especially for vulnerable populations in Covid-19. The study also examines how core partners conceptualize, plan for, and communicate TORFFs in LTCs and storm remnants, like the ones experienced in Hurricane Ida.

A finding from the interviews of the ongoing project is that broadcasters who come from Hispanic and Latinx origins and are hired in markets that serve bilingual (SP-EN) or Spanish-speaking populations report that they frequently generate their own translations of risk information during airtime and social media live coverage. When they work for English-only speaking stations, unofficial translations may be offered on their own time as part of their ethical commitment and engagement to the communities they represent. What remains unknown is the contextual and environmental characterization of challenges broadcasters who serve Spanish-speaking populations face in generating translated risk information for multiple hazard events, like TORFFs in LTCs. 

The study will continue during 2023 when it expects to conduct a national survey to emergency managers and a workshop to core partners who will discuss potential uses of data and findings in NOAA's research-to-operations (R20) applications and strategies.

Cited Articles 

Nielsen, E. R., G. R. Herman, R. C. Tournay, J. M. Peters, and R. S. Schumacher, 2015: Double Impact: When both Tornadoes and Flash Floods Threaten the Same Place at the Same Time. Wea. Forecasting, 30, 1673–1693,

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