By Hannah Osborne
The Georgia Association of Broadcasters (GAB) met with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) on Tuesday, Oct. 17 for the annual Winter Weather Meeting. Joining GEMA and the GAB were meteorologists from around the state, representing various broadcast stations.
The relationship between the GAB and GEMA plays a significant role in ensuring the people of Georgia are provided access to the relevant and accurate information needed to make decisions during an emergency, based off of the research provided by the National Weather Service (NWS).
Ahead of the winter season, the NWS reviewed data from the summer season of 2023, noting a substantial increase in weather warnings and preliminary storm reports.
At the Winter Weather meeting hosted by GEMA, Keith Stellman (Meteorologist in Charge) and David Nadler (Warning Coordination Meteorologist), of the NWS, provided an outlook for the 2023/2024 season; the jury is in for a cold and rainy winter season. The El Niño climate pattern will lead to warming of Eastern Pacific surface waters. It is noted there is a particular focus on regions one and two near the South American coast. This warming will further lead to a rainier upcoming winter season for the southeastern United States. Flooding and flash floods are to be expected, more than 240 rivers and streams are monitored for flooding in Georgia.
It is projected that following the current cooler weather, there will be a warmer period through December and it is expected the coldest weather will occur mid-January through February.
According to outlooks performed by private weather groups there is a general consensus that El Niño’s influence will be a primary contributing factor in the weather forecast for this winter season. A subtropical jet will likely lead to more severe weather in the southeast. Overall, below average temperatures are expected across the board due to the increased cloud coverage. In combination with the rainfall brought in by El Niño, there are more opportunities for severe weather. Typically, a stronger El Niño leads to increased snow falls.
Adjustments can be expected in the winter weather services and products in coming years. Changes reflected in the updated chart will be incorporated as “special weather statements” in lieu of “winter weather” advisories or warnings following this winter season. “Wind chill” advisories will no longer be utilized after the transition is made; the qualifications for these advisories will contribute to the decision of “cold weather” advisories. This change is to emphasize to the public that cold is cold, with or without wind chill as part of the (NWS) Hazards Simplification (“Haz Simp”) Project. “Cold weather” advisories in general will have new threshold requirements. Nationalized criteria will be used in the decision making process of these advisories.
For clarification, these changes will not be taking effect in the 2023/2024 season. The current Winter Weather product sheet will continue to be used.
NWS has transitioned from the formerly used NWSChat platform to Slack. The main channel (#wfo-peachtree-city-ga) is to be used for emergencies and pertinent information, currently hosting 900+ members. In addition to the main channel, NWS has opted to create additional channels to streamline the traffic, these channels are “Datafeed,” “Storm reports” and “Local feedback.”
For parties interested, on Dec. 11, 2023, an “Integrated Warning Team Workshop,” will take place from 8:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the Georgia Tech Research Institute Conference Center.
Broadcasters and Georgians alike can expect a cold and rainy winter, with the potential of snow.
Note: this article was edited on Oct. 23, 2023 for clarification and corrections