Date of Award

5-2018

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Department

Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences

First Advisor

Amber Silver

Second Advisor

Brian Tang

Abstract

A forecast is only as good as the way it is communicated. As the National Weather Service (NWS) transitions to an Impact-Based Communication style, the new public forecasts discuss how to effectively prepare and protect oneself from harm in the face of severe and significant weather. After severe events, meteorologists need to take the time to analyze the language and style of the rhetoric to assess how effective it was at getting people in harm’s way to take protective actions. It is even more important to understand how information was communicated when there is large uncertainty in the forecast. Uncertainty can lead to confusion in the public, which in turn, leads to potential life-and-death situations. Hurricane Irma’s (2017) impacts in Florida provides one such occasion where reflection could prove beneficial in understanding how people respond to forecast information, especially when there is large uncertainty and shifts in that forecast. Using the social media platform Twitter, tweets to and from the Florida NWS offices, local Emergency Management Offices, and politicians were collected to assess how Irma forecast information was disseminated on the platform. Gauging the public’s reception and reaction to this information provides essential insight to meteorologists. The information collected can be used to tailor their future forecasts to ensure protective actions are taken if, and when, the next severe weather outbreak occurs.

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