5B.6 Next generation warning services in the National Weather Service

Tuesday, 2 June 2009: 2:45 PM
Grand Ballroom West (DoubleTree Hotel & EMC - Downtown, Omaha)
Kevin A. Scharfenberg, NOAA/NWS Office of Climate, Water, and Weather Services, Norman, OK ; and J. T. Ferree and E. Jacks

Making the determination to warn the public of an extreme weather event (such as for a tornado, flood, hurricane, blizzard, or extreme heat) is arguably the most important decision made by any NOAA/National Weather Service (NWS) forecaster. Even more important than the identification or forecast of these events is the effective communication of the threat to the public. The communication aspects involve a large segment of the weather enterprise including vendors of meteorological information, the media, emergency managers, academia, and a variety of federal, state, and local governmental organizations. The NWS has recently initiated design of a new application that will fully support its watch, warning, advisory mission and meet new operational requirements. A critical initial step in this design process is to ensure there is a thorough understanding of both the types of warning information and the format of that information needed by the weather enterprise.

On December 2-4, 2008, a workshop was held in Norman, Oklahoma, jointly hosted by the University of Oklahoma and NWS. The workshop brought together technical and operations experts from the private weather enterprise, the broadcast media, emergency managers, academia, and governmental agencies. Discussions ranged from broad concepts of watch, warning and advisory services to the details of textual and graphical dissemination.

The achievement of a clear understanding of how people receive and interpret hazardous weather information is critical to maximize public and partner satisfaction with NWS future warning services. Consequently, in addition to discussions of new technologies, the workshop addressed the current state of the social sciences with respect to the understanding of human response to warning services, and identified social science needs.

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