Societal Impacts of Severe Local Storms and Current Understanding of Populations at Risk

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Wednesday, 5 February 2014: 5:00 PM
Room C109 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
Julie L. Demuth, NCAR, Boulder, CO

Ongoing advances in observations, understanding, and prediction of severe weather, including tornadoes, help the meteorological community provide increasingly accurate and timely forecast information to members of the public when severe weather threatens. However, recent events—such as the Moore and El Reno tornadoes in 2013, the 2012 June 29 derecho, and the numerous tornado events during the active 2011 season—are stark reminders that atmospheric science advances must be coupled with advances in observations and understanding of human perceptions and responses to severe weather risks in order to achieve the fundamental goal of reducing societal harm. This presentation will take a retrospective and prospective look at the science of human culture, cognition, and behavior as it has been studied in the context of severe weather risks. It will summarize past research emphases and characterize current understanding, framed by the methodological and theoretical approaches that have been employed to date. It then will identify critical areas for future research—including opportunities for research conducted in collaboration with meteorologists—that can have practical implications for protecting members of the public during future severe weather risks.