35th Conference on Broadcast Meteorology


Storm-based Warnings-Changes to NWS Warnings for the Digital Age

John T. Ferree, NOAA/NWS, Norman, OK; and D. Freeman, E. Jacks, and J. M. Looney

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Weather Service (NWS) has long issued tornado, severe thunderstorm, and flash flood warnings for entire counties or parishes. For the past several years, these warnings have included numeric latitude and longitude points that outline a smaller area of greater meteorological threat. These sub-county ‘storm-based' areas are increasingly used by graphical applications for television, the Internet, and even cell phones.

During 2005, several NWS Weather Forecast Offices (WFOs) participated in a test to expand the use of these smaller-than-county areas for convective warnings. These offices were asked to put less emphasis on county boundaries and greater emphasis on the storm location and movement. The test demonstrated several positive outcomes of storm-based warnings, including reduction in the number of people required to take cover. It also allowed emergency management and other disaster response agencies served by these WFOs to focus their limited resources on smaller areas. In view of these benefits, NWS plans to move steadily towards the full implementation of storm-based warnings over the next two years.

Several challenges in the implementation of storm-based warnings require feedback from the broadcast media. For instance, storm-based warnings have greatest value for those that have access to graphics such as television, internet, and cell phone technology. For the radio listening audience, the benefit is limited by the ability to describe the storm location and movement in a text format. The authors will present several possible text solutions, and request feedback from broadcast meteorologist.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is currently rolling out the new Digital Emergency Activation Systems (DEAS). The authors will discuss outcomes of recent meetings on DEAS between NOAA's NWS, FEMA, cable television operators, cell phone companies and meteorological software vendors on the implementation of storm-based warnings.

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Session 5, Severe Storms: Coverage You Can Count On?
Wednesday, 17 January 2007, 3:45 PM-5:30 PM, 205

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