Tuesday, September 8, 2015   |   Business Intelligence, Company News, Critical Weather

Flooding in Florida: Bay News 9 Trusts Baron for Accurate Coverage

In the wake of a devastating flood, Pasco County, Fla., is making every effort to re-house residents, clean up more than $1 million in damages and offer free vaccinations to those affected by the event. The significant destruction even prompted state representatives to reach out to FEMA asking, it to declare the flood a federal disaster in the Tampa Bay area. According to Mike Clay, Chief Meteorologist at Bay News 9 in Tampa, “extreme events like this require highly accurate and up-to-date information, so people can properly prepare for what’s to come.” Throughout the flooding event, Clay led a weather team that brought continuous coverage to concerned citizens while relying on Baron technology for precision weather intelligence.

Accurate rainfall estimates

Bay News 9 became a Baron client in 2001 when the station purchased its first radar, which was later upgraded to the megawatt-rated Klystron 9. “We first heard about Baron in the late ‘90s when we received a call from Jeff Piotrowski about installing a radar,” said Clay. “Since then, we have trusted in Baron’s precision.” As years passed, the station integrated more Baron systems into its coverage—including VIPIR and FasTrac.

During the 3-week-long flooding, Clay and his team made use of VIPIR’s touchscreen capabilities to keep talent on-screen while showing rainfall estimates for affected areas. Although calculating accurate rainfall estimates can be tricky, especially during significant flooding, Clay felt confident when reporting the information to his audience. “The Baron rainfall estimates using dual-pol technology are the best,” he said. “They are far more accurate than anything I’ve seen before.”

Clay said the station’s powerful radar was able to penetrate the rain cells and show his weather team exactly what was behind them, giving the meteorologists a more accurate picture of the flood. “It’s all in the way Baron processes its data,” he said. “The power behind our Klystron 9 let us easily handle 9-10 inch rains. We were able to relay accurate information and explain just how unusual this event was.”

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Tools to enhance on-air coverage

Two-way communication was key to understanding and communicating the severity of the flooding throughout Tampa. At Bay News 9, Baron’s App Messenger tool gave audience members a chance to share on-the-scene images of the event with the station’s meteorologists. “It really enhanced the situational awareness of our weather team,” remarked Clay. “At one point, we were receiving over 100 pictures every hour from our viewers. They were flying in.” Meteorologists on duty, and everyone watching the coverage, used the images sent in from viewers to understand the gravity of the situation that took place in Pasco County. “People wanted and needed to see what the flooding looked like to truly comprehend. We depended on Baron’s App Messenger tool to get the job done.”

A hit with the audience

The station’s coverage during the event became quite the buzz on social media. All it took was one 4-hour period for Bay News 9 to earn more Facebook likes than it had accumulated in 4 years. “During the worst days of flooding, our station was number one on-air,” said Clay. “They commented on our accuracy, and we got a lot of great feedback on our app.” The station incorporates Baron’s Safety Net alerts into its app to notify viewers when they should take action during severe weather. It also allows users to view live radar—a feature Clay believes made the app a hit during the floods.

Why Bay News 9 trusts Baron

“We were able to show our audience exactly what was going on,” said Clay. “Our systems gave a great performance and allowed us to handle significant flooding that lasted 24 hours a day for several weeks.”

For the latest news and weather from Bay News 9, visit its website at www.baynews9.com.