4.4 Throwing Caution to the Wind: National Weather Service Wind Products as Perceived by a Weather-Savvy Public

Tuesday, 12 January 2016: 11:45 AM
Room 333-334 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Castle Adam Williams, University of Georgia, Athens, GA; and P. W. Miller, A. W. Black, and J. A. Knox

Handout (18.0 MB)

Weather products produced by the National Weather Service (NWS) are crucial for communicating information about weather events. However, it is unclear if the public understands those exclusively involving wind terminology and the risk of nonconvective wind events. To further investigate these questions, we surveyed 400 members of the public from Georgia and Virginia who regularly obtain weather information from two weather blogs in each of the states. We specifically chose communities in Georgia and Virginia to examine two locations that experienced these wind events at different recurrence intervals. Participants completed an online survey designed to evaluate their knowledge of NWS wind products (High Wind Warning and Wind Advisory), wind speed thresholds associated with these products, their willingness to change plans based on the products, and weather salience.. It was found that the weather-savvy participants, in both states, overwhelmingly associate High Wind Warnings (58%) and Wind Advisories (32%) with impacts to their daily lives. Common impacts mentioned by the participants consisted of difficulty driving, falling trees, securing patio furniture, and yard cleanup. Perhaps because the current definitions of these NWS wind products do not include impact-related information, only a small portion of the sample correctly identified the threshold or criteria of issuance for a High Wind Warning (18%) and/or a Wind Advisory (9%). This result demonstrates that an individual's impact from an event is an essential component of wind-related terminology and definitions, and should be further explored in a broadcast setting for communicating the risk of nonconvective wind events to the public.
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