Tampa's National Weather Service office readies new warning system

RUSKIN, Fla. - In the midst of the normal day's doings at the well-staffed US Government installation in Hillsborough County, an informational issue brought a standing-room-only crowd.

"And so we have a sequester..." dead-panned Brian LaMarre addressing a conference room full of meteorologists.

But this time, the conversation was about expansion of services not cutbacks, because -- like us --  the folks here at this National Weather Service office are in the business of of keeping you informed.

"Our forecasts and warnings don't mean anything if people don't hear them," said Warning Coordination Meteorologist Dan Noah, "So the media are the ones that communicate the message.  They're a vital partner in the warning process."

And while Mr. Noah fielded questions from us reporter-types, other staffers presented programs on storm surge statistics and the warning system being beta-tested this storm season in readiness for nationwide rollout in 2015, also radar reviews... and even model output biases and strengths.

"Each center produces a model and and those models are tools, said Noah,"they're not reality."

And so it was on this almost cloudless day that we came to Ruskin to learn about how to use some of these tools better.

It's also a good time for us to remember to gear up for the storm season.  For that time of year when the weather becomes the news, and the news is all about the weather.

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