At thewxsocial.com, we’re frequently examining the struggle of communicating flood dangers. From Houston to Baton Rouge, we have pointed to countless challenges during heavy rain events that strand drivers and claim lives. Melissa Huffman submits several factors that may constrain action to areal and flash flood warnings like lack of familiarity with the flooded area, to being in a warning message restrictive setting like a vehicle. Perhaps it is all just disconnect from messenger to receiver. I have even suggested an alternate framing of the warning message to circumvent the “I can make it” mentality. But now, another city on the Gulf Coast is instituting a simple road sign that could become flood safety’s biggest ally since “turn around don’t drown.”
By: Joe Lauria
As I’ve talked about in previous blogs, my feeling is that the public…my customers…don’t pay attention to the vast majority of severe thunderstorm warnings (SVRs). This is NOT a criticism of the issuing of the warnings from the National Weather Service (NWS)–they have a mandate to follow–rather, this is more of an issue with the criteria and the end results of what typically happens after storms move through.
By: Mike Nelson
Here are some of my thoughts about Global Warming. While this topic has stirred up controversy and some strong reactions, it truly is pretty simple science – when you add HEAT to something, it gets WARMER!
By: Josh Eachus
Thomas Friedman’s 10th “flattener” from his 2005 book, “The World is Flat” is simply “the steroids.” From the world-wide web to workflow software to the rapid spread of information, the steroids referred to all of the digital advances that would come in a rapidly developing technological landscape. 12 years later, the visionary book is no longer a modern take on how the digital world will evolve. We’ve made it there, for better and for worse. Social media has brought an injection of “steroids” to digital information and workflow, but not without side-effects.
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.
“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.
By: Castle Williams and Paul Miller
What is “warning fatigue” and when does it occur? Continue Reading
For meteorologists, lightning is recognized as the thunderstorm hazard with perhaps a greater probability of death than any other. According to the National Weather Service Storm Data, from 1984 – 2013, the United States averaged 49 reported lightning fatalities per year. Only about 10% of people who are struck by lightning are killed, leaving 90% with various degrees of disability.
For the comparatively small number of people lightning directly affects compared to hurricanes and tornadoes, we can’t seem to get the deadly numbers down. This is not about low predictability, advancing science or improving technology. This is about risk perception and the simple fact that humans have a tendency to ignore small probabilities.
“Turn around don’t drown” isn’t working—at least not to its full potential. Meteorologists and media outlets couldn’t be more clear about the dangers of high or rushing water. Heck, television live trucks posted up in front of submerged cars apparently aren’t even strong enough visual cues to keep people away.
Anyone that has spent time in a portion of the United States that experiences occasional severe thunderstorms is familiar with the bevy of weather information that is available. This severe weather coverage can come from local and national television, as well as print and digital media. Its prevalence on social media can be overwhelming at times. We’ve all been bombarded by this, be it in the form of a slight risk area from the Storm Prediction Center, a black box number such as the TORCON, or some other catchy parameter used by a local television outlet.