Abstract: Despite tremendous advances in weather forecasting, people still experience significant harm to life, property, and well-being from hazardous weather. Although the roots and causes of these negative effects are multiple, one contribution toward reducing societal harm is to develop knowledge about how weather forecast information influences people’s risk perceptions and response behaviors. Moreover, weather predictions are intrinsically uncertain due to limited predictability of the atmosphere, and thus there is increasing emphasis on evaluating weather forecasts that explicitly convey uncertainty information. The focus of such research typically is on members of the public, which are an essential population to study. However, weather forecasters also receive different types of information about potential weather threats, and they too must assess the risk and make decisions, making them an additional, important population of study. In this presentation, I will discuss research to understand how National Weather Service forecasters and members of the public perceive and respond to risks of different types of hazardous weather (tornadoes, fire weather, and winter weather), and how developing this knowledge can improve risk communication efforts.
Bio: Julie Demuth is a research scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in the Mesoscale and Microscale Meteorology (MMM) Lab with the Weather Risks and Decisions in Society (WRaDS) research group. She has been working for nearly 15 years on integrating social science research with the meteorological research and practitioner communities. With a hybrid background in atmospheric science and in communication, Julie conducts research on hazardous weather risk communication, risk perceptions, and responses; her work is with both experts, such as weather forecasters, and members of the public. Her work centers on understanding how forecast information, in conjunction with other factors, influence what people think and feel and how they respond. Some of Julie’s current work includes (1) studying how people’s previous weather experiences change the way they perceive future weather risks, (2) analyzing Twitter data to understand people’s evolving risk assessments as hurricane and tornado threats unfold in space and time, (3) exploring people’s perspectives on probabilistic tornado warnings, and (4) identifying NWS forecasters’ interpretations of and needs for deterministic and ensemble guidance from convection-allowing models. Prior to being at NCAR, Julie worked for three years in Washington DC as a Program Officer at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine for the Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate. Julie received her BS in meteorology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, her MS in atmospheric science from Colorado State University, and her PhD in public communication and technology from Colorado State University.