How Emergency Managers Deal With Forecast Uncertainty and Vulnerability in the Southeast U.S. (303)

Daphne LaDue, Center for Analysis and Prediction of Storms, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK

Rachael Cross, School of Meteorology and Center for Analysis and Prediction of Storms, University of Oklahoma



This presentation will examine how, when, and why emergency managers seek or desire additional information from their National Weather Service forecast partners. Drawing from research on key stakeholders of the National Weather Service during multi-year participation in the VORTEX-SE study, background interviews were conducted with 45 participants, the majority of whom were emergency management personnel. Others include fire chiefs, school superintendents, a public works director, and a hospital emergency coordinator. The first sweep of interviews were designed to better understand how key players in local jurisdictions deal with uncertainty in severe weather forecasts a second round of interviews in December 2017 sought to better understand the emergency manager's perspectives on the vulnerability of people, places, and things to tornado, flood, and fire risk. These interviews were supplemented with observations in emergency operations centers during two years of VORTEX-SE deployments when either a tornado watch was issued or the potential event occurred during normal weekday hours. Observations also occurred in 2016 and 2017 in the incident command center of an outdoor festival. The resulting data provide insight into why emergency managers request the severe weather forecast information that they do, how they alter their information seeking and decision making to adapt to shortcomings in the state-of-the-art of severe weather forecasting in the southeastern U.S., and how what they know about the vulnerabilities of people, places, and things affect their information needs.