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NOAA Works to Improve Readiness Posture in National Level Exercise

JUNE 1, 2021 — Each year, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) leads a nation-wide exercise designed to evaluate progress toward achieving an overall emergency preparedness culture.

These exercises, known as the National Level Exercise (NLE), are held on a two-year cycle—odd years (e.g., 2021) are smaller scale exercises such as tabletop exercises and even years (e.g., 2022) are large-scale exercises such as functional or full-scale exercises. NOAA participates in a subsection of the NLE called Eagle Horizon, which is focused on continuity elements.

On May 12-13, NOAA participated in a virtual tabletop exercise designed to look at the Cascadia Subduction Zone and ask “What if a mega earthquake happened?”

The exercise kicked off with a presentation describing the past Cascadia Subduction Zone ruptures and the threat for another to occur in the near future. Participants were then led through a series of facilitated discussions looking at NOAA-specific aspects related to Immediate Needs and Command Objectives; Personnel, Mission, and Infrastructure (PMI) Impacts; and Accountability and Recovery.

The exercise was well attended with representation from each NOAA Line and Staff Office including Leadership—130 participants in total!

The Planning Team will take the information gathered during exercise play, the post-exercise brief (also known as a hotwash), as well as individual facilitator notes to create the comprehensive After-Action Report (AAR). Once the AAR is complete, the goal will be to identify and create opportunities to address critical areas for improvement throughout the year to ensure NOAA is in the best preparedness posture possible going into the National Level Exercise in 2022.

For more information about the Eagle Horizon 2021 tabletop exercise or other exercises, contact the OR&R Disaster Preparedness Program Exercise Coordinator,

Last updated Tuesday, November 8, 2022 1:43pm PST