Results from an assessment of the National Weather Service's Storm Data loss estimation methodology

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Wednesday, 20 January 2010: 4:15 PM
B211 (GWCC)
Emily K. Laidlaw, NCAR, Boulder, CO; and J. K. Lazo and N. F. Bushek

Loss data on hazard events can provide valuable information to both researchers and decision makers. Storm Data, the National Weather Service's (NWS) database, provides a comprehensive collection of loss data for all U.S. weather-related hazard events. This information is used by policy makers, researchers, and the public, among other end users. Yet there has been little analysis of the process used to generate Storm Data loss data, which raises questions about the reliability and validity of the information and the process used to create it. What sources are used for estimating damages? What types of damages are included in damage estimates? Is there sufficient time and training for those gathering and entering the data? How confident do NWS employees feel estimating damages? To answer these and other questions, we conducted a survey of all NWS Weather Forecast Offices (WFO) through a two-part, confidential online survey in order to elicit the most candid responses possible. Survey Part A requested a collective response from each WFO on questions related to the loss estimation methodology at each WFO. Survey Part B asked questions about the specific loss estimation process for randomly selected events that had occurred during the preceding year. In this paper, we present results from both survey parts and preliminary recommendations and conclusions, which will be provided to the NWS Performance Branch to improve Storm Data training and resources. This paper will also invite discussion about future research directions for loss estimation and damage data.