TJ1.3 Evolution of Storm Prediction Center Communication in the Social Media Era

Monday, 11 January 2016: 11:30 AM
Room 333-334 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Patrick T. Marsh, NOAA/NWS Storm Prediction Center, Norman, OK; and S. A. Erickson, R. S. Schneider, W. F. Bunting, J. Correia Jr., S. A. Jasko, K. E. Klockow, K. Pirtle, G. W. Carbin, J. T. Ferree, C. M. Mead, and J. Liang

The NOAA/NWS Storm Prediction Center (SPC) is tasked with producing forecasts of severe thunderstorms and their associated hazards (tornadoes, large hail, and damaging winds). Historically, this guidance was used primarily by local National Weather Service forecast offices. However, with the advent of the Internet, social media, and the always-connected society, SPC forecasts and graphics are increasingly consumed by the public-at-large. This new audience, with less technical knowledge, prompted discussion between SPC, social scientists, and other core SPC partners (e.g., Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA]) aimed at improving the effectiveness of communicating SPC products and services.

By employing agile development concepts, these weekly cross-agency, cross-discipline scientific discussions utilize rapid and iterative prototyping, continuous feedback, and an open discussion of ideas to enhance SPC's communication of forecast hazards. Initial successes include the creation of a Public Severe Weather Outlook graphic; creation and implementation of State-, FEMA Region-, and NWS Forecast Office County Warning Area-centric graphics of SPC convective outlooks; and ongoing efforts to include additional color coding, iconography, and web design features for a more intuitive, easy-to-use public interface to SPC products and services.

Despite these early successes, cross-agency, cross-discipline collaboration is not without its challenges. Each agency and discipline has its own language, mission and preferred approaches, some of which contradict what is “known” by different agencies or disciplines. To overcome such challenges, participants must be willing to invest significant effort up front to unlearn their biases and engage in a willingness to learn from their collaborators. This presentation will focus on the challenges and successes of working in such a diverse environment.

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