J15.2 Public perceptions of the 10 May 2010 Oklahoma and the 17 June 2010 Minnesota tornado outbreaks

Wednesday, 26 January 2011: 1:45 PM
618-620 (Washington State Convention Center)
Sarah L. Stalker, NWC REU, Hudson, WI; and K. M. Kuhlman, H. Lazrus, R. A. Peppler, and K. E. Klockow

The purpose of this project is to gather initial actions and reactions, from the public, in response to the 10 May 2010 Oklahoma and the 17 June 2010 Minnesota tornado outbreaks. This is done in support of the National Severe Storms Laboratory's Warn-on-Forecast project for severe thunderstorm, tornado, and flash flood events. The tools and products that will be developed as part of the project are needed to improve warning for both the public and community stakeholders i.e. emergency managers, hospitals, and schools. The first part of this research study consisted of formal interviews of 6 individuals impacted by the May 10 storm in Oklahoma and analysis of their responses. Preliminary results show that the majority of the interviewees did not feel any direct threat from the tornado during the early stages of storm development and advisories. Interestingly, with a longer lead-time promised by Warn-on-Forecast, most said they would still probably wait to obtain more information before taking any form of shelter or enact a safety plan. However, a majority of the participants believed it would be beneficial to see information on the expected track of the storm, which Warn-on-Forecast could provide, in order to help the individual make their own decisions on whether they felt the need to take safety measures. The results from interviews following the June 17 Minnesota outbreak will be used in comparison to the May 10 outbreak. Comparison of the two datasets will help distinguish regional differences, if any, in tornado perceptions. The results in this study are intended to aid the National Severe Storms Laboratory in further development of the Warn-on-Forecast system with respect to public perspectives on longer lead times and other information needs.
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