Town Hall Meeting: The Role of the Forecaster in Probabilistic Decision Making

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Monday, 24 January 2011: 12:15 PM-1:15 PM
606 (Washington State Convention Center)

In recent years, the weather enterprise has been making strides toward providing additional forecast detail using high-resolution ensemble prediction systems and probabilistic information. Uncertainty is an inherent part of every forecast, and probabilistic forecasts can be used to quantify this uncertainty. However, the methods of communicating and utilizing probabilities remain a significant challenge. Individual decision makers must know how to appropriately apply probabilistic information to their specific decision processes in order to realize its full value, and the probabilistic information needed varies widely between different applications. Many unresolved challenges related to the effective presentation and comprehension of probabilistic information have been discussed by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO; see WMO/TD No. 4122, Guidelines on Communicating Forecast Uncertainty), the National Research Council (NRC; see the NRC report Completing the Forecast), and the AMS Ad Hoc Committee on Uncertainty in Forecasts (Generating and Communicating Forecast Uncertainty). The best designed and fully calibrated ensemble prediction system in the world will only provide additional value if decisions are appropriately influenced by the new probabilistic information. The AMS Board for Operational Government Meteorologists and the 24th Conference on Weather Analysis and Forecasting/20th Conference on Numerical Weather Prediction are sponsoring this Town Hall Meeting to discuss the forecaster’s role in communicating forecast uncertainty, which is necessary to achieve full utilization of probabilities in decision making by users of weather information. Currently, the forecaster often plays the role of decision maker by issuing advisories and warnings when the threat of high-impact weather exceeds key “one size fits all” thresholds. Ideally, decision makers would all use forecast probabilities combined with their own assessment of their sensitivity to weather to achieve the best possible decision. In reality, decision makers have many factors to consider in addition to weather, and the forum will discuss appropriate future roles for forecasters in ensuring that decision makers can effectively utilize complex environmental uncertainty information. For additional information, please contact Andrew Molthan, NASA MSFC (tel: 256-961-7474; e-mail:
Host: Town Hall Meetings
  12:15 PM
Introductory Remarks by Waldstreicher
Jeff S. Waldstreicher, NOAA/NWS, Bohemia, NY
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