Macon-Bibb Officials Visit National Weather Service For ESF Meeting

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Peachtree City, Georgia. (41NBC/WMGT) – After an active hurricane season, Macon-Bibb officials are preparing for the next round of severe weather.

There are over 40 departments and agencies within Macon-Bibb County that operate within the Emergency Support Function (ESF). This group is responsible for planning how the county reacts to different situations including hazardous weather. ESF members took a special trip to the National Weather Service (NWS) in Peachtree City.

Director of the Macon-Bibb Emergency Management Agency (EMA), Spencer Hawkins, says it was important to have the team visit the NWS in order to better understand how meteorologists not only develop their forecasts but also get that critical information out to the public.

The Atlanta Office is the largest in the nation, home to 21 meteorologists responsible for issuing watches, warnings and advisories for 96 counties and the world’s busiest airport. The forecasting area includes 7.7-8 million people, and the terrain ranges from 200 feet to 4,600 feet.

The trip consisted of a weather briefing, tour of the office and outlook of the upcoming winter season.

One pattern meteorologists are currently looking at is La Niña which has an interesting effect on the south during the winter months. If La Niña comes to fruition, it will result in drier and warmer than normal conditions across Georgia from December through February.

Keith Stellman, Meteorologist in Charge at the NWS in Peachtree City, says his staff has done some research on the effects of La Niña in Georgia and “found that during La Niña winters, even though we’re warmer and drier typically, we have more episodes of ice.”

In preparation for winter weather, Hawkins says the county will be will prepared to clear the roadways for safe travel.

“Internally with the county, we work with our Public Works teams to make sure that they have salt and trucks and spreaders ready to go and we hit those main thorough-fairs first,” Hawkins said.

However, wintry precipitation and icy roads aren’t the only threat this winter… Georgia has two severe weather seasons: spring and late fall/winter when cold, dry air battles warm, moist air.

Stellman notes that because we are heading into the beginning of severe weather season where the “fall peak is November, you also need to consider your severe weather plan.”

As always, plug in your NOAA weather radios and have them turned on to receive warnings from the National Weather Service. You can also download the free 41First Alert Storm Team app for warnings and other alerts.

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  Kristen Kennedy joined the 41NBC First Alert Storm Team in May 2016. Kristen is not new to the state of Georgia - she was born and raised in Roswell, just north of Atlanta. Kristen developed a passion for weather at an early age - as early as the third grade! Her excitement and interest in meteorology continued throughout her years of higher education. Kristen graduated Summa Cum Laude from Mississippi State University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Geosciences, concentrating in Professional Meteorology with Broadcast Emphasis. She also has a minor in Broadcast Communications. In college, Kristen was a member of the broadcast meteorology program's Campus Connect Forecast where she produced and recorded forecasts weekly, reported weather hits for radio, wrote forecast updates for the student newspaper and worked extensively on social media. She also won 2nd Place in the College Mississippi Associated Press Broadcasters awards banquet for the Best College Weathercast. Aside from her time forecasting the weather in college, Kristen also interned at WSB-TV, a local news station in Atlanta, during the summer of 2015. When she's not monitoring weather conditions, Kristen is probably talking or watching sports. She grew up watching her brothers play and even got involved in a few sports herself. Kristen loves college football, though she is biased towards the SEC. She notes that Saturdays down south in the fall are arguably some of the best days of the year. She has always been an Atlanta Braves fan, and she also enjoys watching the Atlanta Falcons and the Atlanta Hawks battle it out against their opponents. Kristen also loves the outdoors and exploring new locations to hammock with a view. She constantly has an eye to the sky, and eagerly awaits sunset each day - hoping for a colorful sky to capture with her camera. She is excited to finally experience some beautiful sunrises now that she's working the morning side of the day. You can catch Kristen's forecasts daily on 41 Daybreak from 5-7 AM and on 41 Today at 11 AM.