89th American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting

Monday, 12 January 2009
Improving Warning Systems: An assessment of public response to tornado warnings during the 2008 tornado season
Hall 5 (Phoenix Convention Center)
Jenniffer M. Santos-Hernandez, Disaster Research Center, University of Delaware, Newark, DE; and H. Rodriguez and W. Diaz
While hazards are random events disasters are the product of the cultural, social, economic, and political arrangements of society. Disasters are rooted in the vulnerable conditions and resiliency of the community affected by a hazard.

For the past five years the Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA), a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center, has conducted research to develop a new weather observing system that will enhance our ability to sense, predict, and respond to severe storms, tornadoes, floods, and other atmospheric phenomena. The main objective of CASA is the development of a dense network of small, low-power, low-cost radars with the ability to sample the lower troposphere where many atmospheric events develop. While technological advancements may result in a better and more accurate forecasts cultural social, economic, and political factors may hinder public response to warnings.

Using a semi-structured survey and Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) we explore the decision making process of householders living in areas that have been under tornado warning during the 2008 Tornado Season. Our ongoing survey explores issues of access, use, and trust on information sources, dissemination of warning information through formal and informal networks, interpretation of warning information and response. Our current sample was selected randomly and includes over 250 individuals living in four counties in Minnesota, Kansas, Illinois and Oklahoma. Findings of this research will enhance our knowledge about public response to tornado warnings. Understanding the warning decision making process is crucial for the success of technology and for the development of effective disaster reduction and mitigation policies.

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