Rural Conversations: Discovering Ways to Diversify Weather Forecasts for Alaska (90)

Louise Fode, National Weather Service Anchorage Forecast Office, Anchorage, AK

Edward Plumb, National Weather Service Fairbanks Forecast Office

Amber Hill, National Weather Service Anchorage Forecast Office

Davin Holen, Alaska Sea Grant

Rick Thoman, National Weather Service Alaska Regional Headquarters



Rural Conversations: Discovering Ways to Diversify Weather Forecasts for Alaska

Louise Fode, Edward Plumb, Amber Hill, Davin Holen, Rick Thoman

Alaska's population is highly polarized between a few large population centers and many small remote communities that are not connected to one another or the rest of the United States via the road system. These rural communities rely on marine traffic, river barges, small airplanes and snowmobiles in the winter for supplies, support, subsistence activities and travel between communities. A decentralized communication infrastructure limits broadband internet in rural Alaska, requiring many residents to diversify their information gathering methods.

Rural Alaskans are highly dependent on accurate weather forecasts for safety and preserving their subsistence livelihoods. Their day to day experience of local weather conditions allows them to adjust official forecasts to reflect what they can expect in their community. Many people in these communities also rely on Alaska Native traditional cultural knowledge to supplement the weather forecast, enabling them to make life-saving decisions.

The National Weather Service Alaska Region recognizes that the needs and methods of obtaining weather information in rural Alaska differ greatly from communities on the road system. This joint project with Alaska Sea Grant will connect with Alaskans to find out how they receive weather forecasts, what local knowledge they use to supplement them, and investigate ways to diversify National Weather Service forecasts with local knowledge and alternative communication methods.