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Defining Hazards

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  • 1 University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma
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Abstract

State hazard mitigation plans guide state and local agencies in actions they may take to reduce their vulnerability to extreme events. However, because they are written for a general audience, they must be written in a way for a layperson to understand. In many cases, the people writing these plans are not meteorologists or do not have access to meteorological expertise. Consequently, descriptions of hazards may be taken from websites, other documents, or perhaps authoritative sources. This leads to inconsistencies in the way hazards are portrayed in the plans, which increases the difficulty of translating proposed actions to local governments or to other states.

This article delves into the issue of these variances and how it affects those who write state hazard mitigation plans. For this brief text, the hazards discussed in state plans that fall in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (RISA) Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program (SCIPP)’s region are covered with a comparison of definitions from the National Weather Service (NWS) and the American Meteorological Society (AMS). States within the SCIPP region include Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee. This study found that it is more common for states to use key words from NWS and AMS hazard definitions than to use exact definitions. The goal of this article is to prompt a discussion about the inconsistency of terminology used in state hazard mitigation plans and to spread awareness of this issue so that future plans can keep their unique elements while providing a better description and understanding of the included hazards.

© 2017 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

CORRESPONDING AUTHOR E-MAIL: Darrian Bertrand, darriannoyes@ou.edu

Abstract

State hazard mitigation plans guide state and local agencies in actions they may take to reduce their vulnerability to extreme events. However, because they are written for a general audience, they must be written in a way for a layperson to understand. In many cases, the people writing these plans are not meteorologists or do not have access to meteorological expertise. Consequently, descriptions of hazards may be taken from websites, other documents, or perhaps authoritative sources. This leads to inconsistencies in the way hazards are portrayed in the plans, which increases the difficulty of translating proposed actions to local governments or to other states.

This article delves into the issue of these variances and how it affects those who write state hazard mitigation plans. For this brief text, the hazards discussed in state plans that fall in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (RISA) Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program (SCIPP)’s region are covered with a comparison of definitions from the National Weather Service (NWS) and the American Meteorological Society (AMS). States within the SCIPP region include Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee. This study found that it is more common for states to use key words from NWS and AMS hazard definitions than to use exact definitions. The goal of this article is to prompt a discussion about the inconsistency of terminology used in state hazard mitigation plans and to spread awareness of this issue so that future plans can keep their unique elements while providing a better description and understanding of the included hazards.

© 2017 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

CORRESPONDING AUTHOR E-MAIL: Darrian Bertrand, darriannoyes@ou.edu
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