J3.3 Communicating Severe Weather Through Increasingly Diverse Channels

Thursday, 11 June 2015: 2:00 PM
304 (Raleigh Convention Center)
Sarah Fysh, The Met Office, Exeter, United Kingdom

The world of weather information consumption is changing. Increasingly people are accessing weather information and forecasts across multiple channels making it hard to say which source will become the most ‘trusted' or the one that drives action. Increasingly smart phone and other digital weather platforms play a part in the mix of weather information sources – and may well come to dominate.

The Met Office provides a range of weather information and services that allow the UK public to “optimise or mitigate against the impact of weather” in their daily activities. A key service is our National Severe Weather Warning Service, issued to the public and emergency responders via various channels to warn them of impending severe weather, which has the potential to cause danger to life or widespread disruption.

This presentation will look at how we communicate with the public before, during and after severe weather, bringing together research, data and case studies to examine:

1)Attitudes and behaviours towards severe weather

2)The channels people currently use

3)The growth of emerging channels

4)The importance of an authoritative voice the public can trust during times of severe weather

In terms of the channels people currently use, national and local TV still remain dominant for those who access weather forecasts most frequently, accounting for almost 60%. The shift away from traditional broadcast media to digital media has consolidated, but did not increase in 2014. However, it is interesting to note differences amongst digital channels – there has been a significant increase in using an app on a mobile, whilst there has been a decline in using websites through a computer or tablet. As such, findings suggest that there is an increasing appetite for accessing weather on the go.

Our research has shown that ‘severe weather' is currently associated more with ‘news' than ‘weather information' across all segments. With a high level of sensationalism in the UK press, particularly in relation to severe weather, it's important for the Met Office to have direct routes of communication for weather information and forecasts. Using case studies including the St Jude's Day Storm in Oct 2013 and the ‘Weather Bomb' in December 2014, this presentation will provide a overview of the plethora of ways we ensure our warnings reach the UK public and media in a consistent and reliable way. This includes:

-Social media including how the Met Office has built a working relationship with Twitter

-Using our broadcast partners

-Public engagement and trust, and how we use our quarterly Trust Tracker


-Video and, particularly, our use of Vine

-Search engines; what people search for during periods of severe weather

-Blogs; getting our messages directly to the public and media without third party interpretation

-Syndication via our own online daily weather forecast to search engine and web portal partners

-Our Weather Observation Website (WOW) which enables the public to report severe weather

-How our website traffic increases during severe weather. Traffic to our main website, mobile site and apps increases by upwards of 200%+ during periods of severe weather.

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