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

Tuesday, 24 January 2012: 2:30 PM
Sources of Information and Decision Making of University and School District Officials During Tornado Warnings
Room 243 (New Orleans Convention Center )
Amy C. Nichols, Social Science Woven Into Meteorology, Norman, OK; and S. Hoekstra and E. Gruntfest

This presentation summarizes results of exploratory research on how university emergency managers and administrators and school district officials respond to tornado warnings. New tornado warning paradigms are under development by NOAA's Hazardous Weather Testbed and Warn-on-Forecast groups that will increase tornado warning lead times. This research has two main goals: 1) to learn what factors influence the decisions to disseminate information to the university campus population or shelter K-12 students within the school and 2) to consider how new tornado warning practices may affect university and school district officials' decision making and warning responses. Considering the perspective of stakeholders increases the likelihood that new weather information products and practices will be developed in ways relevant to the users. Universities and school districts represent unique and important user groups within the weather enterprise.

Using Google Earth and Iowa Environmental Mesonet warning data, universities and school districts placed under tornado warnings were identified during the Spring 2011 tornado season. Interviews with emergency managers and officials at five public universities and six school districts were conducted to address four main research questions:

1.What sources of information do university and school districts officials prefer during severe weather events?

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

3.How do the non-weather factors affect decision making during tornado warnings?

4.What weather information would improve operations, with particular focus on changes to tornado warning lead time?

This research was conducted as collaboration between NOAA's Hazardous Weather Testbed Experimental Warning Program, NSSL's Warn-on-Forecast program, the Social Science Woven Into Meteorology (SSWIM) program within the Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies at the University of Oklahoma, and the University of Oklahoma's Department of Geography and Environmental Sustainability.

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