What recent research tells us about evacuation decisions during Hurricane Matthew

By: Josh Eachus

A common question in meteorology circles after Hurricane Matthew: why didn’t they evacuate? We can’t just say storm surge will be 7-11 feet. We can’t just say know your evacuation zone. Even combining the two, while a step in the right direction, isn’t enough. Riad et. al (1999) said that evacuation can be understood as the result of three basic social psychological processes: (a) risk perception, (b) social influence, and (c) access to resources. But at some point, it all becomes too much! Say, what? It sounds like paralysis by analysis. But, in striving for the zero fatality outcomes, we continue to weave fundamental concepts of risk perception and information processing into weather messaging.

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Local Perspective: Hurricane Matthew


By: Minh Phan

“I’m so ridiculously prepared everyone would wanna be at my house. If it gets to cat 3 I’m out. Cat 2 is a breeze.”

Others felt the coverage on Matthew was dramatic and overhyped.

“I don’t think it’s gonna be that bad. Georgia has a reputation of panicking in weather situations.”

Those who expressed their intent to evacuate did so out of extra precaution, playing it safe and leaving in case the storm delivered a heavy blow to the region.

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A post-tropical cyclone with tropical storm warnings expected to have hurricane-like impacts

Explain that in 140 characters or less.

What began on August 17th as a strong tropical disturbance near Africa ended Florida’s decade-long hurricane drought two weeks later, but the story didn’t end there. The 20-day telenovela brought as many twists and turns as the last three episodes of Bachelor in Paradise (complete with tropical locales). It was an exercise in emotional fragility for weather forecasters. As one of my colleagues best put it, the storm that wouldn’t form was also the one that wouldn’t go away. Continue Reading


Heat speak: challenges of the “silent killer”

Meteorological Twitter has been pretty quiet of late. In fact, the only real “hot-topic” cooking up is about heat—no surprise in the summer months. This subject is revisited every summer and it often has to do with criteria. What constitutes a heat advisory? How about an excessive heat warning? As the weather wise know, answers to those questions vary based on location. But there are some broader points to the heat narrative that inspire further discussion. Scientists always seem to want hard and fast rules—or certain thresholds. Does a certain ambient temperature need to be reached? Should it simply focus on heat index? How does time factor into the equation?

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When Two Paradigms Are Better Than One

By: Dr. Susan Jasko

In many regions of the United States, it is severe weather season. Traveling around the country, you might find yourself facing tropical storms, intense straight-line winds, a derecho, flooding, hail large enough to demand you wear a helmet, lightning, and of course, tornadoes. And just when you thought it was safe to enjoy summer!

In the weather community, many professionals from a wide range of positions both public and private have their eyes and thoughts focused on the communication challenges created by the act of weather forecasting. Small wonder given the formidable list of hazards covered in those forecasts. Nature has the upper hand and sometimes the best thing we can do is duck. But we have to know WHEN to do that.

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Looks So Easy

By: Mark Fox

I remember it because I was extremely unhappy with the rain. The rain canceled the scheduled baseball game at Strickland Park in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Never heard of it? Can’t blame you, as most baseball games for 9 and 10 year olds rarely get any press. While we were unable to play the game, an F3 tornado moved through town about an hour after our game, cementing a fascination with severe weather that remains to today.  Had I been older, I may have been one of the American Legion team which took shelter in the dugout at their ballpark at Couch Park. (http://stillwaterweather.com/stwfriday13thtornado.html)

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