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Hurricane Warning Language Getting Better

Constant improvement has to be the goal.

It is not just the former emergency manager for Maui who has trouble with issuing warnings that can be understood clearly.

The National Weather Service (NWS) found out that people needed more clarification with the graphic they used to depict the course of hurricanes.

While there is a graphic cone shown on a map, people had looked at that and where they lived and said, “Look, the hurricane will just miss us!” Oops, bad assumption! Not only are hurricanes extremely wide and the impacts unpredictable, there is also “wobble” and the path of the hurricane might not be exactly in the cone depicted on the map.

Therefore, I noted that the map being distributed by the NWS showing the hurricane cone for Idalia had this annotation: “Note: The cone contains the probable path of the storm center but does not show the size of the storm. Hazardous conditions can occur outside of the cone.”

I’m sure that there are people who never saw the map, but for those that did, the information there better informs them of the risks they face and they can therefore more appropriately take actions to save lives and protect property.

The above is a great example of learning from the past.
Eric Holdeman is a contributing writer for Emergency Management magazine and is the former director of the King County, Wash., Office of Emergency Management.