8.4 NWS Hazard Simplification: Assessing the Newly Reformatted What, When, Where Messages for Flash Flood and Winter Storm Warnings

Wednesday, 10 January 2018: 2:15 PM
Ballroom E (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Mark A. Casteel, The Pennsylvania State University York, York, PA

The NWS has been undertaking a hazard simplification project for the past few years designed to both enhance and simplify the nature of the Watch, Warning, and Advisory messages distributed by the NWS. Much of this project history was presented by Jacks, Eosco, Klockow, and Pirring (June, 2017) at the AMS Fourth Conference on Weather Warnings and Communication in Kansas City. As shared by Jacks and his coauthors, the results from a series of focus groups, a survey distributed at the 2015 AMS meeting, a 2015 case study survey, and a hazard simplification workshop, have suggested a number of potential changes, and many prototype warning message changes (both large and small), are being considered for adoption.

The first change that was implemented in the fall of 2017 was the consolidation of a number of advisory, watch, and warning products into smaller groups. Additionally, a simplified reformatting process was implemented such that messages all use a consistent format consisting of “What”, “Where”, “When”, “Additional Details” and “Precautionary/ Preparedness Actions.” The research reported here represents an attempt to empirically investigate the effectiveness of these new reformatted warnings. Unlike the previous research that focused heavily on NWS meteorologists, broadcast meteorologists, and emergency managers, the research reported here focused solely on members of the general public, who might be likely to encounter such messages on social media. Participants read a series of flood warnings and winter storm warnings, in both the older, base format and the newer “What, Where, When” format. Participants then rated their likelihood of engaging in a series of protective actions as well as stating their preference (if any) between the two warning types. If accepted, I will report the results of the study and discuss how they can help inform the overall effort to simplify and enhance the weather hazard warning process.

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