J1.2 Enhancing Risk Management Decisions through Impact Based Warnings and Expressions of Urgency, Severity, and Certainty

Tuesday, 12 January 2016: 11:15 AM
Room 255/257 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
John T. Ferree, NOAA/NWS, Norman, OK

NOAA's Weather-Ready Nation is about building community resilience in the face of increasing vulnerability to extreme weather and water events. The National Research Council 2006 report “Completing the Forecast” specifically challenged the entire weather enterprise to take responsibility for providing products that effectively communicate forecast uncertainty information. The communication of risk and certainty has been a key topic of several recent multi-disciplinary academic conferences and symposia over the last four years. These meetings and workshops specifically identified warning message content and warning context with respect to improved response as a research imperative, and set goals to cultivate an integrated, multidisciplinary community of researchers who can coordinate, cooperate, and collaborate on problems in extreme weather resilience. Impact-Based Warnings (IBWs) (Hudson et al, 2013 and 2015) for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes are expanding nationwide. IBWs are expected to improve the threat warning process and motivate appropriate responses by using event tags and additional textual material that provide more specificity about the magnitude of the storm and its potential consequences. A few recent social science studies (Galluppi et al. 2013, Harrison et al. 2014, Casteel 2015) indicate that both forecasters and Emergency Managers find the IBW effective. An ongoing study is looking at the broader topic of the effectiveness of IBW on public response. NOAA's National Weather Service is planning an expanded use of Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) in the dissemination of hazardous weather information. Under consideration is the inclusion of three new elements – Urgency, Severity, and Certainty. How these new elements are defined, and the messaging that accompanies the values within these three elements will impact risk management decisions by the media and emergency management, alerting systems such as Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) on cell phones and NOAA Weather Radio (NWR), and ultimately on actions taken by the public. This presentation will review existing and ongoing social science research on communicating hazardous weather risk and uncertainty, some stemming from these meetings and workshops. Applying well-informed social and behavioral science research to the definition of these new elements of Urgency, Severity, and particularly Certainty, and to the associated IBW messaging will be critical to enhancing appropriate response.
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