NWS Des Moines Decision Support Services

The National Weather Service continues to provide decision support services (DSS) for specific events and/or incidents to partners and stakeholders throughout the year. Most DSS provided is for scheduled events such as county fairs, races, parades, concerts, and even RAGBRAI. Occasionally, the NWS will be asked upon to provide DSS for emergency incidents including one recent event that occurred in Graettinger, Iowa (Palo Alto County) when a train derailed on the morning of March 10, 2017.  A total of 27 cars where involved with the train derailment in which a few were loaded with alcohol and was unfortunately set ablaze (See image below).   The Palo Alto Emergency Management requested daily DSS briefings which included highlights of upcoming weather, hourly forecast graph, a detailed 5-day text forecast, and resources (See Figure 1).   The briefings finally ceased by Wednesday March 15th and this incident is just one of several examples on the DSS that the NWS provides to their partners. 
NWS Decision Support Services Include (but not limited to): 
  • Weather briefings provided at designated times and through requested formats including phone calls, emails, video conferences and on-site deployments
  • NWS maintains a constant weather watch for the event or incident
  • If hazardous weather is imminent, the NWS will contact the provided point of contact(s)
  • Support provided for your requested impact and decision making thresholds
  • Location specific situational awareness webpage
Last summer, the NWS deployed a new DSS Calendar Tool to aid in the NWS Des Moines partner support.   Requests can be made by NWS partners and once a request is received and details of the DSS is finalized, then the event/incident is listed in the DSS Calendar.  The NWS Des Moines also has several Decision Support Pages available for anyone to use:  NWS Des Moines Decision Support Page.  The DSS varies from severewinter, fire weather and flooding. Radar, satellite, current watches and warnings, webcams, road conditions, and the latest observations are all available on the aforementioned links.  
KCAU-TV/Nexstar Media Group

KCAU-TV/Nexstar Media Group


Figure 1: Example of the decision support services provided to the Palo Alto Emergency Management for the Graettinger, Iowa Train Derailment in March 2017.

Blog post by Kenny Podrazik, Meteorologist