May 21, 2012 at 6:47 pm
By Bill Logan, ABC Action News
At the National Weather Service’s Tampa Bay Office, preparations are already under way to take machines and manpower downtown to help support the Emergency Operations Center during the Republican National Convention.
Weather experts predict it could be anything but a day at the beach for the thousands of visitors headed here in late August, in the midst of our most intense weather.
“We’re really looking at hurricane potential,” said Brian LaMarre of the National Weather Service’s Tampa Bay Office. “Even lightning is going to be one of the main things we’re going to be looking at,” he added.
“It’s very important that all of our skill sets and all of our subject matter expertise is identified and located at that one centralized location,” said Chief Thomas Forward of Tampa Fire Rescue.
Forward explained it’s crucial so they can get the “information as timely and as expedient as they can pull it up from the National Weather Service in Ruskin.”
Those involved in the discussions can’t tell you exactly where the Emergency Operations Center is going to be, it’s a top-secret sort of thing, but they can say that inclement weather is a major part of the discussion.
Actually, the template for adding weather watchers goes back to the 2008 Gasparilla Invasion, which came a week after a heavy rain event washed out the children’s parade.
“That actually led to our invitation to the National Weather Service from the Hillsborough County Emergency manager to be live in the Emergency Operations Center for the Pirate Invasion the following weekend,” explained LaMarre.
And if it’s good enough for pirates, it’s got to be good enough for politics.
“Our main role is for the safety of the public. To make sure they have information directly from us and for a very successful event for Tampa,” he added.
That’s what everyone is hoping for.