Connecting the Dots: A Communications Model of the North Texas Integrated Warning Team during the 15 May 2013 Tornado Outbreak

Dennis Cavanaugh National Weather Service Forecast Office, Fort Worth/Dallas, Texas

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Melissa Huffman National Weather Service Forecast Office, Houston, Texas

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Jennifer Dunn National Weather Service Forecast Office, Fort Worth/Dallas, Texas

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Mark Fox National Weather Service Forecast Office, Fort Worth/Dallas, Texas

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Abstract

On 15 May 2013, 19 tornadoes occurred across north and central Texas, killing 6, injuring over 50, and causing more than $100 million in property damage. The majority of the impacts to life and property were the direct result of category-3 and category-4 enhanced Fujita scale (EF-3 and EF-4) tornadoes that affected the communities of Cleburne and Granbury, Texas. This study focuses on an examination of the north Texas integrated warning team (IWT) communications through a thorough analysis of interactions between IWT members during this event. Communications from all members of the IWT were collected and organized so that a quantitative analysis of the IWT communications network could be performed. The results of this analysis were used to identify strengths and weaknesses of current IWT communications to improve the consistency of hazardous weather messaging for future high-impact weather events. The results also show how effectively communicating within an IWT leads not only to more consistent messaging but also to broader dissemination of hazardous weather information to the public. The analysis techniques outlined in this study could serve as a model for comprehensive studies of IWTs across the country.

Corresponding author address: Dennis Cavanaugh, 3401 Northern Cross Blvd., Fort Worth, TX 76137. E-mail: dennis.cavanaugh@noaa.gov

Abstract

On 15 May 2013, 19 tornadoes occurred across north and central Texas, killing 6, injuring over 50, and causing more than $100 million in property damage. The majority of the impacts to life and property were the direct result of category-3 and category-4 enhanced Fujita scale (EF-3 and EF-4) tornadoes that affected the communities of Cleburne and Granbury, Texas. This study focuses on an examination of the north Texas integrated warning team (IWT) communications through a thorough analysis of interactions between IWT members during this event. Communications from all members of the IWT were collected and organized so that a quantitative analysis of the IWT communications network could be performed. The results of this analysis were used to identify strengths and weaknesses of current IWT communications to improve the consistency of hazardous weather messaging for future high-impact weather events. The results also show how effectively communicating within an IWT leads not only to more consistent messaging but also to broader dissemination of hazardous weather information to the public. The analysis techniques outlined in this study could serve as a model for comprehensive studies of IWTs across the country.

Corresponding author address: Dennis Cavanaugh, 3401 Northern Cross Blvd., Fort Worth, TX 76137. E-mail: dennis.cavanaugh@noaa.gov
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