by Phil Hysell, Warning Coordination Meteorologist
The National Weather Service (NWS) in Blacksburg, in partnership with the City of Roanoke, hosted its first ever Town Hall Meeting at the Roanoke Civic Center Performing Arts Theater on Tuesday September 12th. The purpose of this meeting was to promote safety and awareness of dangerous weather during National Preparedness Month, provide an overview of NWS digital and mobile services, and take questions and address concerns from patrons and customers.
Approximately 130 individuals participated in this gala event. Each attendee was provided with a program and information packet which included frequently asked questions, a list of NWS web sites for weather information, and a survey. Weather safety brochures were also available.
The Blacksburg office has developed and maintained strong relationships with local media and emergency management, and their involvement was instrumental to the success and quality of the event. Mike Guzo, Emergency Management Coordinator for the City of Roanoke, was gracious in securing and funding the Roanoke Civic Center’s auditorium. WDBJ and WSLS helped promote and publicize the Town Hall Meeting through stories on their local evening news broadcasts with WDBJ airing the story several times the weekend prior to the meeting. In addition to local television, the Blacksburg office advertised the meeting through the local newspaper; local cable companies; local radio stations; several web sites (including their own); distribution of flyers to libraries, Red Cross centers, recreation centers and schools across a six county region; e-mails to spotters and emergency managers, public information statements, and NOAA Weather Radio All-Hazards announcements. The meeting was also advertised on the Roanoke Civic Center’s marquee (see picture below)
Image 1. Town Hall Meeting Promotion displayed on the Roanoke Civic Center’s Marquee
The success of this event was also due in large part to the active participation by much of the Blacksburg staff. The following individuals were instrumental in the administration, promotion, and presentation of the Town Hall Meeting: Phil Hysell, WCM; Jan Jackson, Lead Forecaster; Steve Keighton, SOO; Ken Kostura, Forecaster; Steve Loggains, ASA; Will Perry, Forecaster; Anita Silverman, Lead Forecaster; and Dave Wert, MIC.
Image 2. MIC Dave Wert and WCM Phil Hysell prepare for the Town Hall Meeting.
Image 3. MIC Dave Wert describes the NWS coverage across the United States.
Comments from those present were extremely favorable. One SKYWARN spotter who attended said:
“My husband and I had a wonderful time at the Town Meeting last night. I turned in a survey, but I want to say again how organized and informative and yes, even interesting your presentations are. I guess there is a TV persona in each meteorologist, because all of you were very articulate and interesting speakers. And there must be a teacher in each of you as well, because everything was explained in very
understandable layman's terms without being condescending. I learn more
and more every time I attend one of your activities. Thanks for all your hard work in putting the meeting all together.”
The Town Hall format is a rare opportunity for the NWS to promote its products and services as well as obtain direct feedback from its patrons and customers. To continue this dialog and provide a presence in the local community, the NWS Blacksburg office plans to organize future Town Hall meetings across its forecast area.
More information about the NWS Blacksburg Town Hall Meeting can be found on our web site.