Serving the Special Needs Population through Diversity in Partnerships (264)

Jason Wright, National Weather Service Forecast Office, Nashville, TN

David Rowell, National Weather Service Training Center

DeLyne Kirkham, National Weather Service Forecast Office



Over the past several years the National Weather Service has made significant efforts to enhance the nation's readiness, responsiveness and resilience to extreme weather by building partnerships with a diverse set of groups and organizations, most notably through the Weather-Ready Nation Ambassadors and StormReady initiatives. Through these partnership diversity efforts, the NWS has seen an improved reach to several portions of the special needs population across the United States. However some communities such as senior care facilities, family health clinics, children's homes and mental health associations/clinics still show a need for more support.

To address the need for improved reach to the special needs population, the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Nashville, TN established a Weather-Ready Nation Ambassadors/StormReady special needs specialist in 2014. Although further work is needed, some initial progress has been made across Middle Tennessee toward getting institutions that serve these populations recognized. Several of these success stories will be shared, along with some challenges that still exist. Success stories and challenging situations pertaining to recognition of special needs populations within/across NWS regions and commercial operational weather will also be discussed, including the successful application of the Weather-Ready Nation Ambassadors and StormReady initiatives to at-risk children.

Furthermore, this presentation will discuss how reaching out to special needs populations helps support and enhance the work of the NWS Diversity Management Council. A byproduct of these interactions has been mental health awareness information supplied to rotating shift work operational meteorologists and support staff. Best distribution practices will be discussed.