Hurricane Irene (2011): Lessons for Achieving a Weather-Ready Nation

Dr. John G.W. Kelley

Coast Survey Development Laboratory
NOAA/National Ocean Service

Friday, Sep. 13, 2013, 3:00pm
Chase 130

Hurricane Irene left a devastating imprint on the Caribbean and U.S. East Coast in late August 2011. The storm took the lives of more than 40 people and caused an estimated $6.5 billion in property damages. The effects of Irene were felt from the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico to the Canadian Maritime Provinces and as far west as the Catskill Mountains. The storm produced widespread, devastating flooding in Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, and New Jersey and damaging storm surge along the coasts of North Carolina and Connecticut. It also downed trees and power lines, resulted in massive evacuations, and several rescue efforts. Hurricane Irene tested the technical, human, and psychological resilience of citizens, emergency response organizations, decision makers, and the personnel of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). As part of NOAA’s National Weather Service (NWS) mission to safeguard life and property through continuous improvement, NOAA formed a service assessment team to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of NWS performance during this storm. The service assessment summarizes the event, documents operational best practices, and provides recommendations for improved services and support in order to achieve NWS’ goal of a Weather-Ready Nation. The report of the team was released in late September 2012. Several of these findings and recommendations were also made by the NWS Service Assessment Team for Hurricane/Post-Tropical Cyclone Sandy (2012).The presentation will highlight the major findings and recommendations of the assessment and what changes have been implemented.  


Dr. Kelley is a meteorologist with NOAA/National Ocean Service's Marine Modeling and Analysis Programs of the Coast Survey Development Lab. He is located at the NOAA-UNH Joint Hydrographic Center/Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping.  John is involved with the development, evaluation, and implementation of NOS' operational numerical ocean forecast modeling systems for estuaries, coastal waters, and the Great Lakes. These real-time forecast systems provide short-range forecasts of water levels, currents, salinity, and water temperature for the marine navigation community.  In addition, he is the project manager NOS' nowCOAST  GIS web mapping portal which provides maps of real-time observations, analyses, and forecasts for the coastal U.S. via an interactive map viewer and web map services.   

He received his undergraduate degree in Geography/Atmospheric Sciences from The University of Rhode Island, a M.S. in Meteorology and a Master in Public Administration from The Pennsylvania State University and a Ph.D. in Atmospheric Science from The Ohio State University. Following his Ph.D., he was a visiting postdoctoral scientist at the NWS' Environmental Modeling Center's Ocean Modeling Branch in Maryland.

From September 2011 to September 2012, he was a member of the NWS Service Assessment Team for Hurricane Irene which documented and evaluated the NWS’ performance and effectiveness during Irene and made recommendations for improving its products and services.