J5.6 The Storm Prediction Center Spanish Language Initiative

Monday, 13 January 2020: 11:15 AM
252B (Boston Convention and Exhibition Center)
Joseph E. Trujillo-Falcón, CIWRO/NSSL, Norman, OK; and O. Bermudez, P. T. Marsh, and E. M. Leitman

Known as the fastest growing population in the United States, the Hispanic and Latinx population of 58.9 million represents 18.1% of all Americans today. According to the 2017 U.S. Census Bureau Community Survey, about 72% of Latinx in the United States speak a language other than English at home, where 29.8% of those individuals speak English less than “very well.” That being said, the need for improved communication in Spanish is becoming increasingly important in the meteorological world. The need to reach out to Spanish speaking communities along the international border and coastal regions is even greater. According to the same survey, nearly 82% of Floridian Latinx speak Spanish at home, 74.5% in Texas, and 74.1% in California.

The National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center categorizes severe weather coverage and intensity in five categories based on numerical probabilities: marginal, slight, enhanced, moderate, and high, respectively. The given groups specify the level of the overall severe weather threat via numbers (e.g. one through five), descriptive labeling (e.g. marginal through high), and colors (e.g. light green to magenta). However, when this scale was translated into the Spanish language, a lack of translation knowledge and coordination within the National Weather Service inhibited effective communication in the bilingual community. In this presentation, the risk categories were re-examined and highlighted to illustrate the inconsistency in the bilingual meteorological community when it comes to communicating severe weather risks to the public. Solutions are proposed to this issue, including and not limited to, initiatives to better communicate weather in Spanish.

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