Tell them about the flying monkeys

Posted by – April 6, 2012

The current lead-time for tornado warnings averages 13 minutes, but how do you get people to respond and take cover? The National Weather Service is testing a new kind of severe weather warning based on a storm’s anticipated severity in an attempt to improve risk communication, highlight potential impacts, and make important information easier to find. The new messages, being tested in Kansas and Missouri, will include messages like:

THIS IS A PARTICULARLY DANGEROUS SITUATION.

HAZARD…DEADLY TORNADO.

SOURCE…EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT CONFIRMED LARGE AND DESTRUCTIVE TORNADO.

IMPACT…COMPLETE DESTRUCTION OF ENTIRE NEIGHBORHOODS IS LIKELY. MANY WELL BUILT HOMES AND BUSINESSES WILL BE COMPLETELY SWEPT FROM THEIR FOUNDATIONS. DEBRIS WILL BLOCK MOST ROADWAYS. MASS DEVASTATION IS HIGHLY LIKELY MAKING THE AREA UNRECOGNIZABLE TO SURVIVORS. TORNADO MAY BE UN-SURVIVABLE IF SHELTER IS NOT SOUGHT BELOW GROUND LEVEL.

I have previously noted the research needs in the field of risk communication. These include message content and dissemination, the public’s information-seeking behavior, the role of social media, demographics and access, and context. There are some good resources online for emergency managers, and including self-teaching courses.

-ddw

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