5.4 Communicating and Comprehending Uncertainty During a Significant Northeast Storm

Tuesday, 9 January 2018: 2:15 PM
Ballroom E (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Melissa Di Spigna, NWS, Upton, NY; and J. Picca

Forecasting nor’easters to the degree of accuracy and precision required by decision makers remains a significant challenge. The overall track of the storm system, mesoscale banding features and complex precipitation-type changes are frequently difficult to predict well in advance, and can lead to a perception of a “forecast bust” if these uncertainties are not effectively communicated in a timely manner.

The 14 March 2017 East Coast winter storm was yet another example that quickly highlighted the importance of forecast communication. Specifically, it brought attention to the challenges posed by communicating rapidly changing forecast information.

Utilizing results from a table top exercise with emergency management officials, the authors will provide insight into the decision making challenges public agencies face during rapidly evolving significant storms. Information will be provided on local decision makers’ perception and comprehension of probabilistic graphics, and how a low confidence storm increases or decreases trust in the probabilistic information they are being provided. Finally, the authors will provide preliminary suggestions for improvement to communication based on input from public service agencies and past experience.

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