Weather Happens – CISA Helps Keep Critical Infrastructure Prepared


By Sunny Wescott, CISA Chief Meteorologist

Never ones to steal the thunder of our federal partners at the U.S. Postal Service, but “neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays” the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) “from the swift completion of” its “appointed rounds.” CISA’s mission is to protect the nation’s critical infrastructure from both physical and cyber threats, and this includes from the impact of Mother Nature. Hazardous weather can disrupt or even halt the nation’s ability to deliver critical services like clean drinking water, electricity to power our homes, gas at the fuel pumps, and so many more services that keep our communities running.

In recognition of National Preparedness Month, CISA is highlighting a piece of our mission that is critical, but not always in the spotlight – our role in helping critical infrastructure prepare for and respond to natural disasters.  

You may not know this, but CISA is tasked with analyzing extreme weather and its impacts to critical infrastructure. Through our Extreme Weather Working Group, we provide climate outreach through bi-weekly updates to state, local, tribal and territorial partners and across the federal family. The working group also monitors extreme weather headlines, shares climate studies, provides summaries of region-specific developing threats, and coordinates private-public sector needs. 

CISA offers Extreme Weather and Climate Change-focused exercises, lending expertise to best craft regionally specific events for training and engaging with our capabilities at the local, state and regional levels. Additionally, we provide our partners and stakeholders with climate- focused presentations and documents to ensure the greatest visibility of threats posed by the worsening climate and enhance climate education to match stakeholder needs. 

My passion for climate and weather developed during my time in the military, with the US Air Force. Since then, I have dedicated my efforts in the field of Climate Science on impacts, mitigations, resiliency, and of course, general information sharing. As lead Meteorologist for the agency, I produce weekly National/International Climate Summaries, which provide a continuous database of updated climate data and highlight new dashboards, models, and products from various groups of scientists to ensure the greatest coverage of recent events as it relates to Climate Change and enhanced Extreme Weather Events. I also provide support for emergency response efforts, getting to help those with boots on the ground within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and our critical partners within telecommunications and critical site operators with event summaries and forecasts. 

CISA cannot carry out this mission without the help of its federal partners. The agency participates as a team leader in the Public-Private Analytic Exchange Program’s Implications of Extreme Weather hosted by DHS. The 2023 program focused on the changes we are experiencing from cascading threats, like extreme weather, and highlighted resiliency options for each major weather hazard to best inform partners and the public. Based on this work, CISA created a living hub of climate 101 data, regional-focused future weather threats, resiliency options, funding opportunities, and case studies to highlight the amazing products that federal agencies are publishing. We also work closely with FEMA, across the regions, in a collaborative effort to strengthen resilience by providing expertise for building code revision efforts and Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities panel reviews. 

Finally, I want to highlight the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Clean Power for Hours Challenge. While this year’s competition is closed, this is an annual challenge where individuals submit innovative ideas of back-up power solutions that will help critical facilities continue to operate during electrical outages. If you are interested in finding ways to protect critical infrastructure from hazardous weather, this challenge is for you. And there is a cash prize!

As climate change continues to be prominent in the headlines, remember we all have a role to play to get ready for the aftermath of extreme weather. This National Preparedness Month, you can do your part at home, at work, and in your local community by being prepared for all hazards, reporting suspicious activities to local law enforcement, and learning more about critical infrastructure security and resilience. If you are a weather enthusiast like me or just want to know more about CISA’s work, visit our Extreme Weather and Climate Change page on