Sunday, 22 January 2012
On the Role of Storm Prediction Center Products in Decision Making Leading up to Hazardous Weather Events
Hall E (New Orleans Convention Center )
The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) in Norman, Oklahoma issues tornado and severe thunderstorm watches and other forecast products for organized severe weather over the contiguous United States to ultimately protect the lives and property of the American people. First-order users of SPC services, which are primarily available on the World Wide Web, include Emergency managers, National Weather Service Forecast Office and television meteorologists. These first order users then utilize SPC information in conjunction with their own operations to increase public awareness of hazardous weather events. Because these largely different groups communicate directly with the public, it is important that SPC forecasters can provide the most effective products possible. In order to accomplish this, several representatives from the three aforementioned groups in the central Oklahoma region were surveyed to learn about their reception, interpretation, usage, and thoughts on Convective Outlooks, Mesoscale Convective Discussions (MCD), Watches and Watch Status Messages, Public Weather Outlooks, and experimental enhanced thunder forecasts; and the impact these products have on their respective operations. Preliminary findings suggest that each group generally uses the same products, but the specific information that each uses and disseminates varies widely. For instance, National Weather Service forecasters refer to the discussion element of convective products most frequently, while emergency managers and TV meteorologists tend to favor graphical aspects in comparison. This is also demonstrated by emergency managers' use of the watch graphic for situational comprehension, while TV meteorologists employ it for broadcasting purposes even though, the watch product, commonly thought of as one of the SPC's most important services, was the third most-used product, ranking far behind the Convective Outlooks and MCD products. The users showed that they used probability and timing information from the products and stated that more uncertainty information would be helpful. These findings beg further study of a larger, more geographically diverse set of survey participants to determine how to better meet the array of needs from a variety of primary users. These results will serve as a guide for a national survey that will be conducted in 2012.