With hurricane season fast approaching, Florida Power & Light Company invited South Florida meteorologists to its new, category 5-resistant command center in Riviera Beach to meet its own meteorologist, Tim Drum, and to learn how weather forecasting drives FPL’s response to storms.
“FPL plays such an integral part in not only the hurricanes, but what we do before and after the hurricanes, that I think this communication and collaboration is fantastic,” said Steve Weagle, chief meteorologist for WPTV, Newschannel 5 in West Palm Beach.
Keith Hardy, FPL’s vice president of Distribution, welcomed the guests. “Weather impacts just about everything we do here at FPL,” he said.
Drum discussed how FPL works closely with its partners from the National Weather Service and National Hurricane Center to develop forecasts before big storms and throughout the year.
“A big part of what Tim does is try to give us a heads up – ‘Hey, this is going to occur in this specific area today at this specific time, therefore we may need to call in additional resources or we may need to travel resources to a particular area,’” Hardy explained.
In advance of a tropical storm or hurricane, FPL’s forecasting allows it to preposition crews appropriately, so they are able to get to work restoring power to impacted customers immediately after a storm passes. Drum also showcased technology, including the Google-based “Restoration Spatial View,” which helps FPL leaders and field crews pinpoint exactly where the outages are located in the company’s expansive network of more than one million poles in 35 Florida counties.
This event marked the first time FPL executives, TV meteorologists and government forecasters have met to discuss their shared responsibilities during hurricane season. Drum praised the meteorologists as “important communicators” and valuable partners to help the company communicate with its 4.6 million customers before, during and after a storm. The invited guests said they found the tour and discussion valuable, too.
“We’re all involved in the same thing, which is communicating information,” said John Matthews, chief meteorologist for WPEC-CBS 12 in West Palm Beach. “And I’m really pleased to see how FPL has really stepped up to the plate on this one.”