This gives a whole new meaning to s–t storm.
Joshua Rapp, the city Office of Emergency Management’s first-ever staff meteorologist, is keeping one eye on a wet weather system tracking toward us, and another on the stinky situation in South Ozone Park, where dozens of homes were flooded with raw sewage on Thanksgiving weekend.
It’s not typically in a meteorologist’s job description, but Rapp said just like with the rain expected Monday night and Tuesday, he has watched closely as other storms hit recently, possibly impacting the massive cleanup.
It’s part of the job for the 37-year-old, who spent 18 years in the US Air Force forecasting for all seven continents, and is now bringing hyperlocal weather reports to the Big Apple.
Rapp’s $90,000-a-year job began Nov. 25, and during his first few days, he helped the city prepare for the snowstorm that hit on Thanksgiving weekend.
Still in the Air Force Reserve, the Wisconsin native preps daily updates to the city’s emergency management leaders before leaving his Washington Heights home, including local forecasts ahead of storms that are days away.
“If I were to notice there’s a big heavy rain cell that could hit Ozone Park, my position would be to notify emergency management leaders,” Rapp said. “That’s operationalizing the weather.”
His hiring comes a year after just six inches of early-season snow during a November storm virtually paralyzed the city.
“Those are the types of things that we do want to be able to avoid,” he told The Post during a sitdown in OEM’s office in downtown Brooklyn. “That’s sort of the benefit of having the in-house expertise.”
Working in a control room with multiple screens for weather radar and traffic cameras on the FDR Drive, Belt Parkway, Grand Central Parkway and Whitestone Expressway, Rapp gets his weather data from the National Weather Service, the Federal Aviation Administration, U.S. military and private airports. He then will “fine tune the specifics of the forecast to all the ongoing operations in the city.”
He informs leaders “so they can stage their equipment and resources in advance,” including deploying plows and salt trucks to certain areas.
“Hyperlocal is understanding the layout of the terrain in your local area and then looking at model data that has a resolution that’s fine enough to pick up all the specifics,” he said.
During a press conference on Dec. 2, regarding the first storm of Rapp’s tenure, Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “Even a small improvement in the forecasting helps us a lot. If we can hone exactly where a problem’s going to be, exactly how many inches of snow, or the exact time, even being able to know it’ll come an hour earlier, or an hour later, can change how we approach it.”
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