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Julie L. Demuth, Rebecca E. Morss, Jeffrey K. Lazo, and Douglas C. Hilderbrand

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.

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Paul A. Hirschberg, Elliot Abrams, Andrea Bleistein, William Bua, Luca Delle Monache, Thomas W. Dulong, John E. Gaynor, Bob Glahn, Thomas M. Hamill, James A. Hansen, Douglas C. Hilderbrand, Ross N. Hoffman, Betty Hearn Morrow, Brenda Philips, John Sokich, and Neil Stuart

The American Meteorological Society (AMS) Weather and Climate Enterprise Strategic Implementation Plan for Generating and Communicating Forecast Uncertainty (the Plan) is summarized. The Plan (available on the AMS website at www.ametsoc.org/boardpges/cwce/docs/BEC/ACUF/2011-02-20-ACUF-Final-Report.pdf) is based on and intended to provide a foundation for implementing recent recommendations regarding forecast uncertainty by the National Research Council (NRC), AMS, and World Meteorological Organization. It defines a vision, strategic goals, roles and respon- sibilities, and an implementation road map to guide the weather and climate enterprise (the Enterprise) toward routinely providing the nation with comprehensive, skillful, reliable, and useful information about the uncertainty of weather, water, and climate (hydrometeorological) forecasts. Examples are provided describing how hydrometeorological forecast uncertainty information can improve decisions and outcomes in various socioeconomic areas. The implementation road map defines objectives and tasks that the four sectors comprising the Enterprise (i.e., government, industry, academia, and nongovernmental organizations) should work on in partnership to meet four key, interrelated strategic goals: 1) understand social and physical science aspects of forecast uncertainty; 2) communicate forecast uncertainty information effectively and collaborate with users to assist them in their decision making; 3) generate forecast uncertainty data, products, services, and information; and 4) enable research, development, and operations with necessary information technology and other infrastructure. The Plan endorses the NRC recommendation that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and, in particular, the National Weather Service, should take the lead in motivating and organizing Enterprise resources and expertise in order to reach the Plan's vision and goals and shift the nation successfully toward a greater understanding and use of forecast uncertainty in decision making.

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