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NY launches advanced weather risk communication center at University of Albany

Governor Kathy Hochul announced the launch of the State Weather Risk Communication Center (SWRCC), a pioneering initiative hosted at the University at Albany. This center, backed by an annual investment of $1.5 million, is a collaborative effort between university researchers and state emergency managers. It aims to enhance the state’s preparedness and response to extreme weather events by improving how weather risks are communicated to the public and aiding emergency managers in making informed decisions.

The SWRCC will utilize high-quality forecasts from the National Weather Service (NWS) and data from the New York State Mesonet, combined with on-the-ground information about critical infrastructure. This integration will enable the creation of tailored decision-support products for emergency managers. For instance, during severe weather events, the center could generate real-time maps combining advanced weather observations with infrastructure data to assist in predicting flooding locations and the necessity for evacuations. The center will also support other public entities, such as school districts, in making weather-related decisions and provide emergency weather training and workshops during non-critical weather periods.

University at Albany President Havidán Rodríguez expressed pride in the university’s role in this groundbreaking project, emphasizing its importance in addressing the challenges posed by climate change. SWRCC Director Nick Bassill highlighted the center’s potential to position New York as a leader in integrating weather information into decision-making. The center will be located in UAlbany’s ETEC building, a hub for atmospheric and climate research, and will benefit from existing resources like the xCITE laboratory and the state-of-the-art New York State Mesonet. This initiative represents a significant step in building a more informed and resilient New York, with the center expected to support about 10 full-time positions, student employment, and internship opportunities. The SWRCC will complement the EMPOWER project, a $3 million federal grant-funded initiative exploring the use of real-time data for emergency management, further solidifying New York’s commitment to advanced weather risk communication and preparedness.