S218 Communication Uncertainty of Winter Weather Forecasts to the Public through Social Media

Sunday, 10 January 2016
Hall E ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Scott B. Sincoff, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, MS; and K. Sherman-Morris

Social media users often get confused when receiving their daily weather forecasts. Forecast uncertainty, specifically for a winter weather forecast, has the ability to deny the public a clear enough weather picture to comprehend needed information. Individuals are looking for a personalized forecast from a trustworthy source like National Weather Service Weather Forecast Offices, and they want to know how the weather directly impacts them. When uncertainty in a winter weather forecast is addressed, forecast users are better able to make informed decisions on their own using listed forecast guidance that was transmitted to them through social media and mobile applications. It is not known how well or how frequently uncertainty information is included in a weather forecast delivered through social media. This study measures the amount of uncertainty listed in forecasts through Twitter from five National Weather Service forecast offices: Chanhassen, MN; Upton, NY; Taunton, MA; Gray, ME; and Mount Holly, NJ. Within the study, 375 tweets were analyzed—75 tweets from each National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office. The tweets were measured by a coding scheme denoting the kinds of uncertainty including ranges and types of precipitation as well as graphical evidence and language. There were also one-sided t-tests conducted on the study to measure proportional variables. The null hypothesis that National Weather Service Weather Forecast Offices do not demonstrate communication uncertainty when using social media to communicate to their viewing public regarding winter weather was rejected. Multiple one-sided t-tests suggested that a statistically significant proportion of tweets provided the ranges of precipitation and types of precipitation providing a measure of uncertainty.
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