Texas A&M University’s Texas Sea Grant College Program is setting out to do its part to educate communities about preparing for the potential dangers of severe weather.
Karen Bareford, coastal planning specialist for Texas Sea Grant and coordinator of the Weather Ready Texas program, said by utilizing the resources of the National Weather Service, she hopes the new program will be able to promote a greater awareness and community engagement through its recently launched social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter.
“Our effort is to try and funnel [the National Weather Service’s] data to local communities, get a dialogue going and attempt to increase the readiness of the communities to deal with and understand the impacts of what are coming,” Bareford said. “If we can help to keep people a little bit safer, then I feel like we’ve really succeeded.”
Bareford said the recently-launched Weather Ready Texas is a partner to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Weather Ready Nation program.
The program, which was established as a way to improve forecasts as well as assist communities across the U.S. to be better prepared for extreme weather events and the aftermath that follows, works to draw together nonprofits, academic institutions, private companies and government agencies in an effort to better unify the responsiveness and resilience nationwide.
“What they’ve really discovered is that there has been so much devastation that has occurred because people aren’t prepared and aware of what is going on with the weather,” Bareford said. “The devastating impacts of extreme weather events can be reduced, and often avoided, when individuals and communities are prepared.”
Given that summer is the “prime season” for many weather-related hazards, Bareford said she felt now was the right time to launch the Weather Ready Texas initiative.
From hurricanes to lightning to the summer heat, Bareford said it is important to engage communities in a dialog so, at the very least, thoughts of how to be prepared can be taking place in their minds. For instance, families should develop a plan in bad weather hits, including where to go inside the house and having water, food and other supplies, including a radio and flashlights, or even a strategy of where to meet up in case the family gets seperated and cell phone towers are knocked out.
“Some of these are things that are so common, sometimes we forget to actually think about them,” Bareford said. “We just want to remind people of those things by starting a dialogue and hopefully helping them to be a little bit more prepared.”
In addition to partnering with the Texas Sea Grant, Weather Ready Nation has partners in the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, Texas A&M University-Commerce and the Texas A&M University/Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System, among several others throughout the state.
To learn more about Weather Ready Nation, go to nws.noaa.gov/com/weatherreadynation.
The social media account for Weather Ready Texas can be found by searching the program’s name on both Facebook and Twitter.