NEW YORK - In the five years since Superstorm Sandy, there have been big changes in the way that critical weather information is gathered and communicated by the Federal government.
One of the biggest changes is the issuance of Storm Surge Watches and Warnings. If at least three feet of water is expected on normally dry land within 48 hours, a Storm Surge Watch will be issued. If the flooding becomes more likely, a Storm Surge Warning will be issued, and this information will automatically be relayed to cell phones through the Emergency Activation System.
To go along with those warnings, inundation maps are now available, showing how deep the water could get at any given location, a crucial tool for emergency managers.
Another change concerns Hurricane Warnings, which were not issued for Sandy since it had turned into a non-tropical system prior to landfall. However, due to a change in protocol, Hurricane Warnings are now issued for storms making that transition.
In addition to making the watches and warnings more specific, the National Weather Service is at the forefront of technology that will improve hurricane forecasts.
One of those technological tools is the GOES 16 Satellite, and it's a game-changer with higher resolution and more frequent images down to the minute. That, along with improved computing power, is a recipe for more accurate predictions.
The forecast cones are getting better and the warnings are more tailored to the public, meaning that since Sandy, we're better-equipped than ever to prepare for anything that nature throws our way.