A Nation Speaks: Focus Groups Feedback on NWS Hazard Simplification

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Monday, 5 January 2015: 4:30 PM
221A-C (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Eli Jacks, NOAA/NWS Forecast Services Division, Silver Spring, MD

The National Weather Service (NWS) is collaborating with social scientists, both within NOAA and externally, to gather input on options for improving NWS' hazard messaging system. The specific goal of NWS' Hazard Simplification project is to realize these improvements by clarifying and simplifying text and graphics associated with issuance of NWS Watch, Warning and Advisory (WWA) products. This effort links directly to the NWS Strategic Plan to “Improve weather decision services for events that threaten lives and livelihoods”.

During the winter of 2012-2013, a demonstration assessed user understanding of NWS' winter weather WWA messages and over 6000 comments were collected. Many of these comments contained suggestions and proposed alternatives for WWA simplification and clarification.

As a follow on to this effort, 20 focus groups facilitated by social scientists were held during the spring and summer of 2014. Locations for these focus groups included Baltimore/Washington, Minneapolis, Houston, and Anchorage. These groups were comprised of representatives from the media, emergency management, the public and local NWS Weather Forecast Offices.

Stakeholder feedback regarding their concerns, experiences and attitudes related to the current WWA system was collected and analyzed. This presentation will summarize this analysis and describe next steps towards the goal of improving NWS' hazard messaging system.