876 National Weather Service Decision Support Tools: Communicating Impacts Effectively

Wednesday, 13 January 2016
Holly M. Allen, NOAA/NWSFO Birmingham, Calera, AL; and M. L. Grantham, M. E. Anderson, E. E. Carpenter, M. R. Wilson, and L. Myers

Decision Support Services (DSS) have become increasingly important to the National Weather Service's mission and ability to provide end users with specific weather information, geared toward their needs and impact thresholds. The National Weather Service (NWS) Forecast Office in Birmingham, Alabama has worked with a variety of end users to assess these needs and impact thresholds. NWS Birmingham partnered with other forecast offices and weather enterprise members to develop internal tools and methods in order to provide the most efficient and effective external product and services.

Communicating impacts effectively requires an intimate knowledge of the audience. Knowing their level of weather awareness, understanding of general forecast products and terminology, and preferred communication methods is critical. Each decision support service or product is geared toward that specific end user, whether it is an Emergency Manager or the general public. Best practices and refined services were established based on feedback from local, state, and federal agencies. Dr. Laura Myers, Deputy Director for The Center for Advanced Public Safety at the University of Alabama, provided guidance on gauging the needs and understanding of the general public in order to incite a response to weather terminology, colors, and graphically depicted impacts.

An overview of NWS Birmingham's products and services will be displayed to show the internal tools and methods in place that allow NWS meteorologists to remain situationally aware, produce a GIS-based forecast relevant to the end user's thresholds, and support deployed first responders. Additionally, the coordinated efforts of NWS Birmingham and NWS Jackson, Mississippi with the social science community will be shown with examples of refined weather threat graphics which better engage and serve the general public.

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