Examining Extreme Rainfall Forecast and Communication Processes

Investigator(s): Anna Wanless, Rachel Riley, Kodi Berry, Harold Brooks
Research Dates: 2017 - 2021
Affiliate Organization(s): University of Oklahoma • National Severe Storms Laboratory • National Sea Grant

Extreme rainfall events have increased in parts of the United States and climate models project that trend to continue. As such, forecasters much be able to effectively communicate the potential threats and impacts associated with these events to their uses. How National Weather Service meteorologists and hydrologists communicated with their audiences leading up to and during extreme rainfall events has not yet been widely explored. This study helped address that knowledge gap by investigating how NWS forecasters processed and communicated information about extreme rainfall events that occurred in the South Central U.S. between 2015 and 2019. Nine events were identified and 21 forecasters were interviewed. Using deductive qualitative analysis, components of sense making and decision-making conceptual frameworks as well as principles of forecasting were identified in the interview responses. A simple forecast communication process model was created to illustrate the findings. The study also found that forecasters do not consider the impacts climate change might have on an extreme rainfall events when forecasting such an event. However, climate change is something that they may consider when reflecting on the event after it occurred. Note: Partial funding for this project was provided by NOAA Sea Grant.

For the conference presentation, click here.

For the final paper, click here.

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