He’s Flagler County’s resident weather man, and keeping an eye on what’s happening in the sky and on the ground helps reassure residents during weather incidents.

As a special The Big Five, Bob Pickering shares his views after this weekend’s big nor’easter.

1. What is your role with Flagler County and with the REACT team?

A – I wear a few hats. I am employed by Flagler County Emergency Management as an Emergency Management Specialist – I have been there 27 years.  In EM I have many responsibilities including monitoring potentially hazardous weather events, assisting the EM Director as needed during such events. Of course we know it does not storm all the time, my other responsibilities include weekly and monthly readiness checklists, keeping the EOC on a state of readiness, reviewing emergency plans, various projects, overseeing the hazardous weather programs and many other items. I also occasion work with FireFlight I am responsible for the safe operation of the EOC helipad as well as monitoring our Flight Followers (That is an FAA designation) plus pilot weather briefings and guidance as needed. There are a lot of other things I do and I also admin the social media accounts held by EM

B – When I am not working I volunteer with Flagler County Assist. The organization is separate from the county EM program, an independent entity however when needed FCA volunteers can be called to assist EM through Flagler Volunteer Services. Flagler County Assist has been around since 1985 and helped with the 1985 wildfires about a month after the group formed. FCA joined REACT International in 1991 but recently have chosen to go directly independent once again the members thought it better to keep dues money etc. in Flagler County and in the organization. I have been President of Flagler County Assist from 1985 to 1991 for one year someone else was President then I was it again from 1992 to today. Flagler County Assist provides many services including the Facebook Twitter and Instagram Flagler Weather Info pages

2. You work diligently to keep Flagler residents informed of what’s going on with the weather. Why is this so important to you?

I have always had a real keen interest in the weather and I always have had a passion of helping people. So this combines the two. I take a non hype approach to tell things as they are and not to hype things up. Many people have complained that the Orlando and Jax TV stations do not cover Flagler well so which is one of the driving reasons that I do what I do. A number of volunteers from various organizations as well as Skywarn storm spotters ALL help me in this effort I could NOT do this without their help and observations.  I am also very keen to only use the National Weather Service data, forecasts and other info for all of my weather stuff. NWS is the best in the business and has wide range of resources to get things done.

3. The Nor’easter that just came through had some heavy impact around the county. What types of impact did you notes during your survey on Sunday?

Mostly tidal flooding but not as bad as it could have been. The low pressure tracking further north pushed the stronger winds further north BUT put us in the heavier rains. Rainfalls so far running between 4-6 inches which was forecast.

4. What can residents do to be better prepared for situations like this? 

It’s important to be prepared for all emergencies, but staying informed listening to advice from Emergency Management is key with a nor’easter and for those in flood prone areas taking precautions can go a long way.  Checking batteries in flashlights, bringing in things the wind can blow about etc.

5.How does citizen science and their documentation of their own neighborhoods help you assess the situation more accurately and faster?

Volunteer spotters really help things big big time. Actually by some weird chance a series of spotter classes are coming up! https://www.weather.gov/jax/skywarn_schedule But even the social media reports help too as that can help identify trouble spots and document flood prone areas.

Check out his Non Hype Storm Updates and photos from this weekend at Flagler Weather Info on Facebook. 

Photos: Courtesy Bob Pickering