UA-based CLIMAS, the National Weather Service, and FEMA Region IX are collaborating to design a hydroclimate dashboard that FEMA can use to improve preparedness for potential flooding disasters. The dashboard is an online tool designed to be integrated into FEMA IX’s current information use environment, that provides them with 12-14 maps (depending on the season) arranged to present:
- Climatologies - The historical climate context through maps of historical averages of precipitation and impact data related to floods and previous FEMA declarations across the region.
- Current Conditions: The current climate conditions that either amplify or dampen the impacts of an extreme event.
- Seasonal Forecasts: Forecasts of ENSO conditions, precipitation forecasts, and flood forecasts.
These three temporal components are tied together by an introductory synthesis, which is written by WR-NWS staff each month. The synthesis highlights current climate conditions and possible impacts based on the information presented on the dashboard and the expert judgment of WR-NWS.
FEMA Region IX (CA, AZ, NV and Pacific Islands) has based its disaster management preparations on weather information for decades. Climate information, which conditions weather risk, however, has been underutilized. Hurricanes, atmospheric rivers, floods and other climate-related extremes commonly strike Region IX and have led to 154 federal disasters between 1964 and 2007. Climate phenomena like El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO), in combination with past and current conditions, provide untapped opportunities to leverage climate information to help FEMA better monitor, anticipate and prepare for potential disasters.
This project has just entered its evaluation phase, in which we are working with our partners at FEMA and NWS to determine the usefulness of the dashboard and make modifications to the tool that will increase its use in decision making. UA project leads are Zack Guido, Mike Crimmins, and Alison Meadow.