Flood Risk and Uncertainty: Assessing the NWS' Flood Forecast and Warning Tools
The interdisciplinary research team is working with NWS partners including the Middle Atlantic River Forecast Center (MARFC) and the weather forecast offices from Philadelphia/Mt. Holly, NJ and Binghamton, NY. The team has created a hypothetical storm scenario akin to the flood of record in the Delaware River Basin, and through a series of focus groups is testing how public audiences in the urban city of Easton, Pennsylvania and the more rural community of Lambertville, NJ respond to and understand the flood forecast and warning products associated with such an event. These include: the Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service, including its hydrograph and flood inundation mapping tools; flood outlooks, watches and warnings; and the MARFC's new MMEFS ensemble forecast system.
The first focus groups were held in June, 2013 and centered on identifying how people gather information about flood events and how they interpret the various graphical and tabular products the NWS issues during impending flood events. Among other findings, the results indicate a preference for hydrographs and for location-specific information. Based on participant feedback, as well as understandings from previous social science research, the project team will create a second scenario with revised tools and products, and will re-test these on a second round of participants in Easton, PA and Lambertville, NJ, late in 2013. A website for the project, http://socialscience.focusonfloods.org,will include the final videos, reports and educational materials.