Availability of Weather Warning Communication Technologies

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Sunday, 4 January 2015
Aisha C. Reed Haynes, NOAA Graduate Sciences Program Scholar, Silver Spring, MD

The United States is prone to many natural and man-made hazards. Most meteorological hazards can be forecasted, which allows the population to be warned. Research has shown that the number of warnings that a person receives from different sources play a role in whether or not an adaptive response is taken. People obtain weather forecasts from a number of sources, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Weather Service (NWS) forecasters at storm centers and local weather forecast offices, state/local emergency managers, and news media. Weather hazard information is communicated via a number of technologies in a variety of ways. The technologies that offer the most promise for reaching all populations are television, radio (AM/FM/weather), telephone and/or cell phones, the internet, and sirens/loudspeakers. Whereas these technologies are beneficial in warning the populace, there are several limitations that can hinder a person from getting a warning from these sources. Additionally, people with less accessibility to the latest technologies tend to also be among those most vulnerable to the effects of natural hazards. Using Geographic Information Systems (GIS), this study seeks to display areas in which the people may be technologically vulnerable to receiving hazard warnings, and propose solutions to lessen the vulnerability. Mississippi is the study area, and tornadoes are the focus because all of the above listed technologies are used to warn of this hazard. It is hypothesized that citizens, specifically the socio-economically vulnerable populations, are not receiving weather warning communications from all available media because they do not have access to the varied warning communication technologies due to availability and/or affordability.