Human Factors Affecting Tornado Warning Decisions in National Weather Service Forecast Offices (263)

Frank Alsheimer, NOAA/NWS Columbia, SC, West Columbia, SC

Thomas Johnstone, NOAA/NWS Corpus Christi

David Sharp, NOAA/NWS

Vankita Brown, NOAA/NWS

Laura Myers, CAPS/University of Alabama



To date, there has been little research done to determine what human factors within the WFO environment may affect the warning decision making process of NWS warning forecasters. Therefore, a study was undertaken that surveyed NWS personnel who are responsible for issuing tornado warnings. The survey covered a number of topics the authors deem as important to the tornado warning decision process. There were questions on basic demographics, experience level of forecasters, knowledge among those forecasters of Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) goals of the agency, and a host of human factors, such as the forecasters' interaction with others on the operational floor during the tornado warning decision process, as well as their overall comfort with the task and responsibility when charged with making the tornado warning decision. Some of the results of the survey will be discussed in the presentation. The ultimate goal of the research was to develop best practices by comparing the behaviors of offices with higher GPRA scores with those of lower performing offices. The results are expected to help managers and lead forecasters arrange their human resources during a tornado warning situation as effectively as possible, and to also identify potential training options to improve tornado warning scores. Some of these potential best practices will be presented.