92nd American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting (January 22-26, 2012)

Monday, 23 January 2012
Sources of Information and Decision Making of K-12 School District and University Officials During Tornado Warnings
Hall E (New Orleans Convention Center )
Stephanie Hoekstra, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC; and A. C. Nichols and E. Gruntfest

This study examines the decision making and sources of weather information used and preferred by K-12 public school and university officials during several tornado warnings that occurred in the Spring of 2011. In addition to their large populations, schools and universities are especially vulnerable due to their complex architectural layouts and their roles within the surrounding community. Understanding their uses of hazardous weather information and processes of decision-making during tornado warnings will enhance the social relevancy of the development of new warning systems. We monitored GIS overlays of schools and universities with Iowa Environmental Mesonet warning polygons to determine case studies of schools and universities that were under warnings during the 2011 severe weather season. A select sample of schools and universities that experienced warnings were contacted post event, and key decision-makers were interviewed to answer the following research questions:

1. What sources of information do schools and universities access and prefer during tornado warnings?

2. How and when do they utilize these sources in decision making?

3. How do non-weather related factors influence decision making?

4. What decision support tools would improve operations?

These research projects represent a collaboration between NSSL's Warn-On-Forecast, the Hazardous Weather Testbed, the Social Science Woven Into Meteorology (SSWIM) program within the Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorlogical Studies (CIMMS) at the University of Oklahoma, and the University of Oklahoma's Department of Geography and Environmental Sustainability.

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