Communication Strategies and Awareness for Hurricane Maria (177)

Amaryllis Cotto, NOAA National Weather Service, San Juan, PR



The National Weather Service San Juan Puerto Rico Weather Forecasting Office introduced new communication strategies and graphics to assist in the preparation and emergency processes of the local government, emergency personnel, core partners and general public before, during and after the historical devastation of Hurricane Maria. Weather briefings were tailored with relevant information and graphics for the local government and emergency personnel. The graphics created for social media contained simple, concise and consistent impact statements and meteorological data to augment awareness and understanding of Hurricane Maria's characteristics and expected hazards. As a result, a surge in audience engagement in Twitter and Facebook demonstrated how effective these strategies and graphics were for delivering a precise and consistent flow of communication, reaching millions of residents in Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as an international audience that was directly or indirectly affected by Maria, even after the loss of communication. Implementing these communication strategies and graphics helped mitigate the loss of life and property by means of delivering specific and consistent information as well as aid in the decision-making process of the local government, emergency personnel, core partners and the public in the wake of Hurricane Maria, and can be applied to various weather events for other meteorological offices.