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  • Author or Editor: Heather Lazrus x
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Julie L. Demuth
,
Jamie Vickery
,
Heather Lazrus
,
Jen Henderson
,
Rebecca E. Morss
, and
Kevin D. Ash

Abstract

The weather community has a keen interest in whether or not people comply with tornado warnings by taking shelter when a tornado threatens. When people do not seek shelter, a commonly attributed reason is that they are complacent due to overwarning, false alarms, routine exposure and experience with tornadoes and warnings, or time between damaging events. Yet, there is a lack of research that focuses on whether people are actually complacent, i.e., whether they ignore or are unwilling to prepare for the threat. We explore whether people exhibit these indicators of complacency by examining how people assessed their risk and responded during real-world tornado threats and how vulnerability influenced these processes. Our analysis is based on in-person interviews with 23 survivors of two deadly EF3 tornadoes that occurred approximately 50 miles apart and within 12 h of each other. Contrary to a threat-disbelieving, threat-ignoring, nonpreparing, and thus complacent public, we instead found that people actively managed their risk from the tornadoes, meaning they actively attended to, evaluated, and responded to the tornado risk as it evolved in space and time. We further found, however, that many people felt limited or lack of efficacy to respond due to static and situational factors that resulted in them having no safe place to seek protection from the threat. Based on this rich, nuanced analysis, we provide recommendations about important ways that the weather community and its partners can mitigate the risks people face from tornadoes, now and in the long term.

Full access
Olivia VanBuskirk
,
Paulina Ćwik
,
Renee A. McPherson
,
Heather Lazrus
,
Elinor Martin
,
Charles Kuster
, and
Esther Mullens

Abstract

Heavy precipitation events and their associated flooding can have major impacts on communities and stakeholders. There is a lack of knowledge, however, about how stakeholders make decisions at the subseasonal-to-seasonal (S2S) time scales (i.e., 2 weeks to 3 months). To understand how decisions are made and S2S predictions are or can be used, the project team for “Prediction of Rainfall Extremes at Subseasonal to Seasonal Periods” (PRES2iP) conducted a 2-day workshop in Norman, Oklahoma, during July 2018. The workshop engaged 21 professionals from environmental management and public safety communities across the contiguous United States in activities to understand their needs for S2S predictions of potential extended heavy precipitation events. Discussions and role-playing activities aimed to identify how workshop participants manage uncertainty and define extreme precipitation, the time scales over which they make key decisions, and the types of products they use currently. This collaboration with stakeholders has been an integral part of PRES2iP research and has aimed to foster actionable science. The PRES2iP team is using the information produced from this workshop to inform the development of predictive models for extended heavy precipitation events and to collaboratively design new forecast products with our stakeholders, empowering them to make more-informed decisions about potential extreme precipitation events.

Full access
Shannon M. McNeeley
,
Sarah A. Tessendorf
,
Heather Lazrus
,
Tanya Heikkila
,
Ian M. Ferguson
,
Jennifer S. Arrigo
,
Shahzeen Z. Attari
,
Christina M. Cianfrani
,
Lisa Dilling
,
Jason J. Gurdak
,
Stephanie K. Kampf
,
Derek Kauneckis
,
Christine J. Kirchhoff
,
Juneseok Lee
,
Benjamin R. Lintner
,
Kelly M. Mahoney
,
Sarah Opitz-Stapleton
,
Pallav Ray
,
Andy B. South
,
Andrew P. Stubblefield
, and
Julie Brugger
Full access
Rebecca E. Morss
,
Julie L. Demuth
,
Heather Lazrus
,
Leysia Palen
,
C. Michael Barton
,
Christopher A. Davis
,
Chris Snyder
,
Olga V. Wilhelmi
,
Kenneth M. Anderson
,
David A. Ahijevych
,
Jennings Anderson
,
Melissa Bica
,
Kathryn R. Fossell
,
Jennifer Henderson
,
Marina Kogan
,
Kevin Stowe
, and
Joshua Watts

Abstract

During the last few decades, scientific capabilities for understanding and predicting weather and climate risks have advanced rapidly. At the same time, technological advances, such as the Internet, mobile devices, and social media, are transforming how people exchange and interact with information. In this modern information environment, risk communication, interpretation, and decision-making are rapidly evolving processes that intersect across space, time, and society. Instead of a linear or iterative process in which individual members of the public assess and respond to distinct pieces of weather forecast or warning information, this article conceives of weather prediction, communication, and decision-making as an interconnected dynamic system. In this expanded framework, information and uncertainty evolve in conjunction with people’s risk perceptions, vulnerabilities, and decisions as a hazardous weather threat approaches; these processes are intertwined with evolving social interactions in the physical and digital worlds. Along with the framework, the article presents two interdisciplinary research approaches for advancing the understanding of this complex system and the processes within it: analysis of social media streams and computational natural–human system modeling. Examples from ongoing research are used to demonstrate these approaches and illustrate the types of new insights they can reveal. This expanded perspective together with research approaches, such as those introduced, can help researchers and practitioners understand and improve the creation and communication of information in atmospheric science and other fields.

Open access