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The Creation of a Research Television Studio to Test Probabilistic Hazard Information with Broadcast Meteorologists in NOAA’s Hazardous Weather Testbed

Holly B. ObermeieraCooperative Institute for Severe and High-Impact Weather Research and Operations, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma
bNOAA/OAR/National Severe Storms Laboratory, Norman, Oklahoma

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Kodi L. BerrybNOAA/OAR/National Severe Storms Laboratory, Norman, Oklahoma

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Kimberly E. Klockow-McClainaCooperative Institute for Severe and High-Impact Weather Research and Operations, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma
bNOAA/OAR/National Severe Storms Laboratory, Norman, Oklahoma

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Adrian CampbellaCooperative Institute for Severe and High-Impact Weather Research and Operations, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma
bNOAA/OAR/National Severe Storms Laboratory, Norman, Oklahoma

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Caroline CaritherscWRKG-TV, Mobile, Alabama

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Alan GerardbNOAA/OAR/National Severe Storms Laboratory, Norman, Oklahoma

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Joseph E. Trujillo-FalcónaCooperative Institute for Severe and High-Impact Weather Research and Operations, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma
bNOAA/OAR/National Severe Storms Laboratory, Norman, Oklahoma

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Abstract

Broadcast meteorologists play an essential role in communicating severe weather information from the National Weather Service to the public. Because of their importance, researchers incorporated broadcast meteorologists in the development of probabilistic hazard information (PHI) in NOAA’s Hazardous Weather Testbed. As part of Forecasting a Continuum of Environmental Threats (FACETs), PHI is meant to bring additional context to severe weather warnings through the inclusion of probability information. Since this information represents a shift in the current paradigm of solely deterministic NWS warnings, understanding end user needs is paramount to create usable and accessible products that result in their intended outcome to serve the public. This paper outlines the establishment of “K-Probabilistic Hazard Information Television” (KPHI-TV), a research infrastructure under the Hazardous Weather Testbed created to study broadcast meteorologists and PHI. A description of the design of KPHI-TV and methods used by researchers are presented, including displaced real-time cases and semistructured interviews. Researchers completed an analysis of the 2018 experiment, using a quantitative analysis of television coverage decisions with PHI, and a thematic analysis of semistructured interviews. Results indicate that no clear probabilistic decision thresholds for PHI emerged among the participants. Other themes arose, including the relationship between PHI and the warning polygon, and communication challenges. Overall, broadcast participants preferred a system that includes PHI over the warning polygon alone, but raised other concerns, suggesting iterative research in the design and implementation of PHI should continue.

Significance Statement

Broadcast meteorologists are the primary source of severe weather warning information for the U.S. public. As a result, researchers at NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory and the Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies developed a mock television studio to allow broadcast meteorologists to use and communicate experimental products “on air” as part of the research-and-development process. Feedback provided by broadcasters is incorporated into products through an iterative process. Since 2016, 18 broadcasters have tested probabilistic hazard information at the warning time scale (0–1 h) for severe wind and hail, tornadoes, and lightning.

© 2022 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: Holly Obermeier, holly.obermeier@ou.edu

Abstract

Broadcast meteorologists play an essential role in communicating severe weather information from the National Weather Service to the public. Because of their importance, researchers incorporated broadcast meteorologists in the development of probabilistic hazard information (PHI) in NOAA’s Hazardous Weather Testbed. As part of Forecasting a Continuum of Environmental Threats (FACETs), PHI is meant to bring additional context to severe weather warnings through the inclusion of probability information. Since this information represents a shift in the current paradigm of solely deterministic NWS warnings, understanding end user needs is paramount to create usable and accessible products that result in their intended outcome to serve the public. This paper outlines the establishment of “K-Probabilistic Hazard Information Television” (KPHI-TV), a research infrastructure under the Hazardous Weather Testbed created to study broadcast meteorologists and PHI. A description of the design of KPHI-TV and methods used by researchers are presented, including displaced real-time cases and semistructured interviews. Researchers completed an analysis of the 2018 experiment, using a quantitative analysis of television coverage decisions with PHI, and a thematic analysis of semistructured interviews. Results indicate that no clear probabilistic decision thresholds for PHI emerged among the participants. Other themes arose, including the relationship between PHI and the warning polygon, and communication challenges. Overall, broadcast participants preferred a system that includes PHI over the warning polygon alone, but raised other concerns, suggesting iterative research in the design and implementation of PHI should continue.

Significance Statement

Broadcast meteorologists are the primary source of severe weather warning information for the U.S. public. As a result, researchers at NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory and the Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies developed a mock television studio to allow broadcast meteorologists to use and communicate experimental products “on air” as part of the research-and-development process. Feedback provided by broadcasters is incorporated into products through an iterative process. Since 2016, 18 broadcasters have tested probabilistic hazard information at the warning time scale (0–1 h) for severe wind and hail, tornadoes, and lightning.

© 2022 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: Holly Obermeier, holly.obermeier@ou.edu

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