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Michelle Rutty and Jean Andrey

Abstract

Recent studies have begun to address the importance of weather information for leisure activities. This paper contributes to the understanding of how weather information is sourced, perceived, and used for the discretionary and weather-dependent winter activities of skiing, snowboarding, and snowmobiling. A survey of 1948 Ontario (Canada) skiers/snowboarders and snowmobilers is the empirical basis for the paper, providing insights into how winter recreationists are both similar to and different from the general public with respect to weather information. Results show that virtually all (≥97%) skiers/snowboarders and snowmobilers use weather forecasts when planning an outing, which are primarily (≥95%) sourced through Internet and mobile devices. Skiers/snowboarders and snowmobilers are also highly attentive to rain and freezing rain variables in the forecast, as it negatively affects participation. The results also demonstrate the importance of forecast use for planning travel to snow resorts and snowmobile trails, with poor road conditions likely to result in a postponed or cancelled trip. These findings underscore the differing weather needs of subpopulations, with the need for continued research to examine variations among weather forecast users for context specific decision making.

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Amber Silver and Jean Andrey

Abstract

The role of previous disaster experience as a motivating factor for protective action during high-risk events is still a matter of considerable discussion and inconsistent findings in the hazards literature. In this paper, two events that occurred in August 2011 in Goderich, Ontario, Canada, are examined: an F3 tornado that impacted the community on 21 August 2011 and a tornado warning that was posted for the region 3 days later on 24 August 2011. This case study provided the opportunity to examine the roles of previous disaster experience and sociodemographics on the decision-making process during two successive potentially tornadic events. The results of this research are based on close-ended questionnaires completed by individuals who experienced both storms or who experienced only the subsequent storm on 24 August 2011 (n = 177). Physical cues were found to be the primary motivator during the 21 August 2011 tornado, while the tornado warning was the primary motivator during the subsequent storm. Additionally, there was an increase in the percentage of individuals who took protective action on 24 August 2011 regardless of the respondents’ presence or absence during the 21 August 2011 tornado. Finally, none of the tested sociodemographic variables was found to be statistically significant for the 21 August 2011 tornado, while only gender (female) was found to be positively correlated with protective behaviors on 24 August 2011. These findings suggest that previous disaster experience (either direct or indirect) and sociodemographics intersect in a variety of complex ways.

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Lindsay Matthews, Jean Andrey, and Ian Picketts

Abstract

Winter weather creates mobility challenges for most northern jurisdictions, leading to significant expenditures on winter road maintenance (WRM) activities. While the science and practice of snow and ice control is continually evolving, climate change presents particular challenges for the strategic planning of WRM. The purpose of this study is 1) to develop a winter severity index (WSI) to better understand how winter weather translates into interannual variations in WRM activities and 2) to apply the WSI to future climate change projections to assist a northern community in preparing for climate change. A new method for creating a WSI model is explored, using readily available data from maintenance records and meteorological stations. The WSI is created by optimizing values for three levels of snowfall as well as potential icing events and is shown to have high predictive accuracy for WRM (coefficient of determination R 2 of 0.93). The WSI is then applied to historic and future climate data in a municipality located in central British Columbia, Canada. Findings reveal that much of the variability in WRM can be attributed to weather. The results of the climate change analysis show that winter precipitation in the region is expected to increase by 5.2%–12.3%, and winter average temperatures are projected to increase by 1.5°–2.8°C in the 2050s, compared to the 1976–2000 baseline based on 65 GCMs. Based on the midrange (25th to 75th percentiles) of the 65 GCM projections, annual demand for WRM activities is estimated to decrease by 13.0%–22.0%.

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Christopher G. Fletcher, Lindsay Matthews, Jean Andrey, and Adam Saunders

Abstract

Future climate warming is virtually certain to bring about an increase in the frequency of heat extremes. Highway design and pavement selection are based on a temperature regime that reflects the local climate zone. Increasing heat extremes could, therefore, shift some areas into a different performance grade (PG) for pavement, and more-heat-resistant materials are associated with increased infrastructure costs. This study combines observations, output from global climate models, and a statistical model to investigate changes in 20-yr return values of extreme maximum pavement temperature TPmax. From a multimodel range of simulated TPmax, future changes in PG are computed for 17 major Canadian cities. Relative to a 1981–2000 baseline, summertime Canada-wide warming of 1°–3°C is projected for 2041–70. As a result, climate change is likely to bring about profound changes to the spatial distribution of PG, with the severity of the changes directly linked to the severity of the projected warming. Even under weak simulated warming, an increase in PG is projected for greater Toronto, which is Canada’s largest urban area; under moderate (strong) warming 7 of 17 (9 of 17) major cities exhibit an increase. The influence of model spatial resolution is evaluated by comparing the results from global climate models with output from a set of regional climate models focused on North America. With the exception of mountainous terrain in western Canada, spatial resolution is not a major determining factor for projections of future PG changes.

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Brian Mills, Jean Andrey, Sean Doherty, Brent Doberstein, and Jennifer Yessis

Abstract

Emergency department visitation data were analyzed using a matched-pair, retrospective cohort method to estimate the effects of winter storms on fall-related injury risks for a midsized urban community in Ontario, Canada. Using a unique definition and classification of winter storm events and dry-weather control periods, relative risks of injury were estimated for total falls and two subcategories (same-level falls involving ice and snow; all other falls) across two storm event types (snowfall only; mixed precipitation). Winter storms were associated with 38% and 102% increases in the mean incidence of same-level falls involving ice and snow during snow events and freezing-rain events, respectively. The incidence of other types of falls was slightly but significantly less during snow events relative to dry-weather control periods. Findings suggest that walking is not safer than driving during winter storms, as same-level falls involving ice and snow accounted for 64% more of the injury burden than motor vehicle collisions. Significant reductions in mean relative risk estimates for fall-related injuries were apparent over the 2009–17 study period indicating possible long-term shifts in exposure, sensitivity, and/or risk-mitigating decisions, actions, and behavior. Consistent and significant effects of government-issued weather warning communications on risk outcomes were not found. Practitioners engaged in developing injury prevention strategies and related public risk messaging, in particular winter weather warnings and advisories, should place additional emphasis on falls and multimodal injury risks in communications related to winter storm hazards.

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