Social and Economic Effects of Severe Winter Storms: New York Case Study
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Social and Economic Effects of Severe Winter Storms: New York Case Study
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  • Alternative Title:
    Social and Economic Effects of Severe Winter Storms: New York Case Study; FINAL REPORT
  • Description:
    Recently, the National Weather Service (NWS) increased its focus on providing decision support services to the emergency management community and core partners to help them understand its forecasts and take appropriate actions in the face of upcoming extreme events. In 2011, the Weather-Ready Nation Strategic Plan began to formalize the NWS approach to impact-based decision support services (IDSS; NWS, 2011). NWS defines IDSS as the “provision of relevant information and interpretive services to enable core partners’ decisions when weather, water, or climate has a direct impact on the protection of lives and livelihoods” (NWS, 2013b, p. 5). NWS recognizes IDSS as a primary service and is working to fully and more effectively provide this service to federal, state, local, and tribal decision-makers. To do so, it is important that NWS understands how users are benefitting from existing IDSS and how they could benefit from improved IDSS. This study analyzes four severe winter storms affecting the New York City (NYC) area in 2010, 2013, 2015, and 2016 to evaluate the resulting economic and health effects, and to assess the degree to which forecasts, warnings, and IDSS can reduce economic losses and other impacts.Thisreport describes the systematic data collection effort and expert elicitationused for the study(Section 2). We briefly evaluate how severe winter storms affect vulnerable populations (Section 3). We then provide an overview of four severe winter storms in the NYC area, including forecasted and observed snowfall, a brief overview of storm impacts, and the NWS decision support services providedfor each storm event (Section 4). We compare the December 2010 and January 2016 winter storms to understand the role of IDSS in reducing socioeconomic impacts to three sectors: aviation, ground transportation, and energy (Section 5). Lastly, we provide findings from our study, including the extent to which IDSS may reduce economic losses and the critical attributes of IDSS, and offer recommendations about the dissemination of NWS information and data and ways to further evaluate the impact of winter storms and the value of IDSS (Section 6).
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