Examining the content, channels, and comprehension of hurricane forecast and warning information

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Monday, 18 January 2010: 5:15 PM
B213 (GWCC)
Julie L. Demuth, NCAR, Boulder, CO; and R. E. Morss, B. H. Morrow, and J. K. Lazo

Hurricanes are devastating natural hazards that cause death and injury and result in billions of dollars of property loss each year. Efforts are needed on multiple fronts to reduce these losses. Improving the communication of hurricane forecast and warning information can promote more effective protective decision-making, thus saving lives and property. However, significant knowledge gaps exist in this important area. This jointly funded NSF and NOAA project advances understanding of the communication of hurricane information by studying: (a) how hurricane warning message content is generated; (b) the communication channels used throughout the hurricane warning system; and (c) how members of the public, including more vulnerable groups, comprehend and react to specific components of hurricane forecast advisories and warnings. It examines four actors in the hurricane warning system -- National Weather Service (NWS) forecasters from the National Hurricane Center [NHC] and local NWS forecast offices, broadcast meteorologists, emergency managers, and members of the public. The first phase of this research, conducted in the Miami area, included task-activity observations of the forecasters and semi-structured interviews with the forecasters, broadcasters, and emergency managers. This presentation will discuss initial findings from this research with an emphasis on how the forecast message content is generated by these different actors and the channels through which they communicate the information among themselves and to the public. The presentation will also discuss possible hurricane forecast and warning products and their specific attributes to be tested with members of the public in the next phase of the research project.