The 30th annual Governor’s Hurricane Conference begins today in Orlando with about 1,100 participants from throughout Florida attending.
Palm Beach County Emergency Director Bill Johnson is the chairman of this year’s conference. He said the theme is “reboot readiness” – basically how to keep people aware that just because it’s been more than a decade since Florida was hit by a hurricane, doesn’t mean that streak will continue.
“Although Florida has not been impacted by a hurricane since 2005, our state should take time to be prepared for that possibility,” wrote Gov. Rick Scott in a welcome letter to conference attendees. “The theme of this year’s conference reflects our collective need to ree-evaluate our risks and to keep our guard up.”
Emergency managers, health care workers, volunteers and members of faith-based organizations will have the opportunity to attend 47 training sessions and 45 workshops on preparing for a storm and dealing with the aftermath.
On Wednesday, National Hurricane Center Director Rick Knabb will be one of three keynote speakers.
The conference follows the National Hurricane Conference held last month where forecasters introduced a few new products, such as storm surge maps that will be in use this year, and future possibilities, such as earlier watches and warnings for systems before they are considered a tropical storm or hurricane.
It also comes in a year when a landmark hurricane research project that improved forecasts by 20 percent in five years is facing more budget cuts as the federal government seeks to “slow the development” of the program following a decade with no major hurricane landfalls.
In its fiscal year 2017 budget request, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said it plans to reduce its investment in the Hurricane Forecast Improvement Project, which was launched in response to the record storm seasons of 2004 and 2005.
The program was originally given $13 million annually beginning in 2009. That was cut to $4.8 million last year and is expected to be further reduced to $3.8 million as focus turns to a broader array of prediction products that will refine all hazardous weather forecasts, said NOAA spokesman David Miller.
Hurricane season begins June 1 and runs through November.