TJ3.3 When Uncertainty Is Certain: The Creation and Effects of Amiable Distrust between Emergency Managers and Forecast Information in the Southeastern United States

Monday, 7 January 2019: 2:30 PM
North 226AB (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Rachael N. Cross, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK; and D. LaDue, T. Kloss, and S. Ernst

Weather forecasting is not an exact science; however, in regions near the southern end of the Appalachian Mountains, the vastly different types of topography and high frequency of rapidly forming storms adds an extra layer of complexity to the equation. As a part of VORTEX SE, this talk focuses on emergency managers (EMs) and first responders regarding their severe weather preparation and decision making. To analyze these processes, background interviews were conducted with forty-three EMs and first responders across fourteen counties. The data were analyzed using an inductive, data driven approach. The results reveal several factors contributing to this added layer of practical uncertainty beyond the usual forecast uncertainty. Such factors include the frequency of impactful, no-notice events, meaning weather events in which EMs received late or no notice of an approaching storm; the unique and complex terrain; and an inherent forecast uncertainty stemming from background meteorological conditions such as high-shear, low-CAPE environments. This talk takes a look at these factors and how they fuel what we call an “amiable distrust” between participants and forecast information, prompting EMs and first responders to sometimes alter their procedures before and during weather events from what they would nominally have done given the forecast or warning information.
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