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A Comparison of Two Significant Severe Weather Events: Communication Strategies and Public Response Surrounding the 20 and 31 May 2013 Central Oklahoma Tornadoes

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Monday, 3 November 2014
Capitol Ballroom AB (Madison Concourse Hotel)
Marcus D. Austin, NOAA, Norman, OK; and M. B. Scotten, J. Kurtz, and M. Day

The tornadoes of 20 and 31 May 2013 were a challenge, both mentally and physically, to forecasters at the Norman, Oklahoma Weather Forecast Office (WFO). Moreover, fatigue from back-to-back significant severe weather episodes resulted in varying degrees of risk interpretation and societal response from the citizens of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma City metropolitan area.

This paper will focus on office communication strategies ahead of, during, and after the 20 and 31 May tornadoes. In each of these events, use of social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, were vital in enhancing public awareness and response. In addition, specialized graphics and spot forecasts provided critical short term weather information to key partners in tornado relief and recovery zones. Leveraging social media, innovative graphics, and enhanced short term forecasts fostered improved awareness and societal response during these high impact severe weather events.