Former Town of Oyster Bay Councilman, Nassau County Assistant District Attorney and lawyer Leonard Symons has had a lifelong passion for meteorology. He recently attended the 2015 National Hurricane Conference (NHC) in Austin, TX, and at 7 p.m. on June 9, he will speak at a hurricane seminar at the Morrelly Homeland Security Center in Bethpage.
“We are trying to raise awareness of the storms and get the public to be better prepared in handling future events than we were in the past,” Symons said.
“Island wide…everyone needs to be knowledgeable and everyone needs to be prepared,” said Symons. Having extensive sophisticated weather equipment at his home in Plainview, Symons is more knowledgeable and prepared than most.
Among the speakers will be representatives from the National Weather Service (NWS), the Red Cross, PSEG and Town of Oyster Bay Commissioners Justin McCaffrey, of the Department of Public Safety and Kevin Hanifan of the Highway Department.
They will honor meteorologist Bill Korbel and his team at News 12 Long Island. Korbel has a unique degree of expertise having spent two years as a forecaster for Air Force One.
At the seminar, the NWS will discuss new innovations, such as their use of graphics to communicate watches and warnings of storm surges to the public.
“It’s a big deal,” Symons said. “In the past we have only had watches and warnings for wind. The chief cause of death in tropical systems is not wind—it’s water.”
One of the issues the NHC focused on, Symons said was, “how do we communicate risk to the public in a way that makes them understand it and respond to it without all the hype of today’s media world?”
It’s a tough question, but the Morrelly Center seminar will certainly help. The event is free and the public is invited to go and listen to the experts about a topic that affects everyone. Though hurricane season formally began on June 1, Symons said, “For our area, prime time is all through September and the first couple weeks of October.”
On Thursday, May 14, Symons spent eight hours at the Morrelly Center with PSEG and representatives from various locations and organizations carrying out a “table top hurricane,” which brings a fictitious hurricane up the east coast. The organizations collaborated and decided who will be responsible for what when the real thing happens.
“We talk to each other and try to address all of these issues well before the storm made landfall and during landfall,” Symons said. “The recovery period we addressed also and how to get back to normal.”
He said the session was very productive and everyone involved learned valuable lessons.
On Tuesday, May 26, fifth grade students in the Town of Oyster Bay were given the opportunity to view a webinar with the National Hurricane Center to raise awareness about hurricanes and storms. Symons said, “We want to try to establish a culture of preparedness.”
For more information, visit www.asfhs.org.