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Improving Effectiveness of Weather Risk Communication on the NWS Point-and-Click Web Page

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  • 1 National Center for Atmospheric Research,* Boulder, Colorado
  • | 2 Meteorological Developmental Laboratory, NOAA/National Weather Service/Office of Science and Technology, Silver Spring, Maryland
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Abstract

The National Weather Service's (NWS) point-and-click (PnC) web page is a primary channel through which NWS directly provides routine and hazardous weather information to its users. The research presented here aims to improve risk communication of hazardous weather information on the PnC web page. The focus is on improving communication of threat existence and threat timing because this important information influences how individuals perceive and respond to a weather risk. Experimental presentations of PnC forecast information were designed for two weather scenarios: a severe thunderstorm warning and a flood watch. The experimental presentations were created by adding new textual and graphical pieces of information that were intended to better convey threat existence and timing, and they were evaluated through two rounds of nationwide surveys of PnC web page users. The survey results show that the default presentation of forecast information on the PnC web page was the least effective at conveying hazardous weather threat existence and timing. Adding start-time text and end-time text, when these information pieces were coupled, helped respondents understand the precise time that weather threats were in effect for the rapid-onset, short-duration severe thunderstorm warning and for the delayed-start, longer-duration flood watch. Adding a box graphic placed around the forecast icons further enhanced communication effectiveness by drawing respondents' attention to the weather threat. Other experimental forecast presentations were designed but were less effective at communicating hazardous weather threat existence and timing, illustrating the importance of empirically evaluating weather risk communication prior to providing it operationally.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

Corresponding author address: Julie L. Demuth, NCAR, P.O. Box 3000, Boulder, CO 80307. E-mail: jdemuth@ucar.edu

Abstract

The National Weather Service's (NWS) point-and-click (PnC) web page is a primary channel through which NWS directly provides routine and hazardous weather information to its users. The research presented here aims to improve risk communication of hazardous weather information on the PnC web page. The focus is on improving communication of threat existence and threat timing because this important information influences how individuals perceive and respond to a weather risk. Experimental presentations of PnC forecast information were designed for two weather scenarios: a severe thunderstorm warning and a flood watch. The experimental presentations were created by adding new textual and graphical pieces of information that were intended to better convey threat existence and timing, and they were evaluated through two rounds of nationwide surveys of PnC web page users. The survey results show that the default presentation of forecast information on the PnC web page was the least effective at conveying hazardous weather threat existence and timing. Adding start-time text and end-time text, when these information pieces were coupled, helped respondents understand the precise time that weather threats were in effect for the rapid-onset, short-duration severe thunderstorm warning and for the delayed-start, longer-duration flood watch. Adding a box graphic placed around the forecast icons further enhanced communication effectiveness by drawing respondents' attention to the weather threat. Other experimental forecast presentations were designed but were less effective at communicating hazardous weather threat existence and timing, illustrating the importance of empirically evaluating weather risk communication prior to providing it operationally.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

Corresponding author address: Julie L. Demuth, NCAR, P.O. Box 3000, Boulder, CO 80307. E-mail: jdemuth@ucar.edu
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