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Severe Weather Survey Analysis 2011-2012. Dr. Laura Myers Ms. Ashley Loftin Mississippi State University Social Science Research Center. Severe Weather Survey.

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Severe weather survey analysis 2011 2012
Severe Weather Survey Analysis 2011-2012

Dr. Laura Myers

Ms. Ashley Loftin

Mississippi State University

Social Science Research Center

Severe weather survey
Severe Weather Survey

  • The severe weather survey was developed to assess perceptions of severe weather events and the warning process primarily in Mississippi and the surrounding regions.

  • This analysis was conducted as part of the regional emergency management project, funded by SERRI and the Department of Homeland Security.

Severe weather survey1
Severe Weather Survey

  • The results of this analysis are for use by regional emergency planning stakeholders, including…

    • The National Weather Service

    • Emergency managers

    • Weather professionals

    • The private sector

    • First responder agencies

    • Volunteer organizations

Severe weather survey2
Severe Weather Survey

  • The survey was disseminated electronically and via hard copy to residents in these areas through local emergency managers, the media, and the weather enterprise.

Severe weather survey3
Severe Weather Survey

  • The survey was initiated in mid-November 2011 and closed in mid-January 2012.

  • The final number of respondents with complete surveys was 1,810.

The study population
The Study Population

  • The majority of respondents to the survey are from Mississippi (43%-995 respondents.)

  • Over 20% of respondents are from Alabama (525 respondents) and 13% are from Tennessee (290 respondents).

Demographics of study population
Demographics of Study Population

  • Both males (58%) and females (42%) responded to the survey in Mississippi.

  • Males were much more likely than females to respond in Alabama (73%) and Tennessee (72%).

Age distribution
Age Distribution

  • The age distribution of respondents was normal in all three states.

The weather aware respondents
The Weather Aware Respondents

  • As is typical with weather perception research, most respondents were more likely to..

    • be Caucasian

    • have at least some college education

    • and earn moderate to high incomes.

  • It is the weather aware populations that are more willing to share their perceptions on weather.

Experience with damaging weather
Experience with Damaging Weather

  • Over 90 percent of the respondents in each of the three states had experienced some level of damage from severe weather.

  • Over 40% in each state had experienced either minor or major tornado damage.

Structural protection
Structural Protection

  • About 75% of the respondents in each state live in a wood frame home.

  • The rest of the respondents live in manufactured homes, apartments, or hotels.

What is a tornado watch
What is a tornado watch?

  • Almost all respondents correctly identified a tornado watch correctly.

Receiving weather warnings
Receiving Weather Warnings

  • Mississippi respondents are more likely to use television as their primary method of receiving weather warnings, while Alabama is more likely to use NOAA weather radio.

  • Tennessee respondents are equally likely to use both.

Receiving weather warnings1
Receiving Weather Warnings

  • There appears to be little reliance on cell phones or sirens as a primary method to receive warnings.

  • The most effective method for respondents is the NOAA weather radio.

First response to a tornado warning
First Response to a Tornado Warning

  • MS respondents are more likely to take immediate cover than respondents in AL and TN.

  • AL and TN respondents are more likely to seek a second source of information or wait to hear from a local source

  • They are putting themselves at more risk because they are cutting down their protective action time.

Seriousness of tornado warnings after the extreme 2010 2011 season
Seriousness of Tornado Warnings After the Extreme 2010-2011 Season

  • MS respondents were more likely to take warnings more seriously after the 2010-2011 extreme weather, followed by AL respondents.

  • About 40% of TN respondents did not take warnings any more seriously than before.

  • MS and AL residents were more likely to have experienced severe weather during the 2010-2011 season.

Serious weather warning terminology
Serious Weather Warning Terminology Season

  • Enhancing the seriousness of warning terminology appears to make a difference for respondents.

  • Such serious terminology cause over 50% to prepare and monitor more.

Where do you shelter
Where do you shelter? Season

  • Nearly three quarters of the respondents choose an interior room for their shelter.

  • While a personal storm shelter is the better choice, only about 10% of respondents choose that option.

  • This is likely due to cost and also perceived risk.

Weather alert messages
Weather Alert Messages Season

  • Message content options were provided to determine which content options led to seeking shelter immediately.

  • Content most likely to result in seeking immediate shelter :

  • National Weather Service meteorologists are tracking a confirmed tornado near your location.

  • Trained weather spotters report a tornado near your location.

Weather alert message with wind speed
Weather Alert Message with Wind Speed Season

  • The increase from 60 mph to 80 mph wind speed seems to make the difference in when people start to seek shelter immediately.

  • There appears to be no real difference in the use of the term “tornado” versus “strong tornado.”

  • Both terms result in people seeking shelter immediately.

False alarms
False Alarms Season

  • Change in behavior from false alarms from tornado warnings appears minimal.

  • Over two thirds will not change their behaviors after false alarms.

  • About 20% are less likely to seek shelter after false alarms.

  • It is of concern that almost a quarter of respondents would be less likely to seek shelter.

Conditions that protect you from tornadoes
Conditions that protect you from tornadoes? Season

  • Respondents generally do not believe in the myths associated with conditions that protect from tornadoes.

  • Most respondents indicated that any place can be hit by tornadoes.

Number of warnings per year
Number of Warnings Per Year Season

  • Actually a small number of warnings per location each year.

  • Percentages within each state show a wide variation in perceived number of warnings.

  • Reason for wide variation is probably due to hearing warnings for surrounding locations and recalling those as applying to the person’s locale.

Rely on sirens
Rely on Sirens? Season

  • Less than half of the respondents rely on sirens.

  • The primary problems are that people cannot hear them and they are not location specific.

  • Because sirens are for outdoor use, people may not be aware that sirens are not meant for indoor use.

Length of weather warnings
Length of Weather Warnings Season

  • About two-thirds perceive weather warnings to be just the right length.

  • Just over 20% perceive them to be too long.

  • Only about 10% perceive them to be too brief.

  • Any efforts to decrease length should be taken with caution and monitored closely.

How to warn and when to warn
How to Warn and When to Warn Season

  • NOAA weather radio and television are primary methods to receive weather warnings for most people in the study.

  • Other methods suggested by respondents include more and better use of cell phone technology, especially text messaging.

How to warn and when to warn1
How to Warn and When to Warn Season

  • Respondents note the need for greater specificity in the warnings.

  • They want proximity to location in the warning.

  • Many respondents felt the current methods used are useful and work very well.

How to warn and when to warn2
How to Warn and When to Warn Season

  • Social media was also suggested, using Facebook and Twitter to convey warnings.

  • Social media would be an avenue to pursue as nearly three-quarters of respondents use social media.

How to warn and when to warn3
How to Warn and When to Warn Season

  • For siren use, suggestions were made to use different tones to mean different things.

  • Some respondents suggest not telling them to shelter, just give location of tornado and the path.

How to warn and when to warn4
How to Warn and When to Warn Season

  • It is suggested that at least 30 minutes of lead-time be given when possible.

  • Several days of lead-time are useful when that information is available.

  • Digital signs on the Interstate were suggested for those traveling the highways.

How to warn and when to warn5
How to Warn and When to Warn Season

  • The polygon system is perceived as being confusing and useless.

  • False alarms should be eliminated if possible.

  • Alerting by phone at night would overcome the sleep issue.

  • Graphic warning maps are especially helpful.

How to warn and when to warn6
How to Warn and When to Warn Season

  • The public seems to want to know as soon as possible, not just when the tornadoes are confirmed.

  • In regard to path, they want to know when it is at least 2 counties away.

  • Some refer to the window effect, a time frame in which people should be aware.

Conclusion Season

  • Multiple sources of weather warnings.

  • Lack of understanding by some of tools and warnings.

    • Polygon

    • Siren

  • Content of warning message critical.

  • Timing of message important.

  • Proximity and path important.

Conclusion Season

  • False alarm issue needs to be addressed with caution.

  • Warnings at night should be addressed

  • Use of social media.

  • Many tools and methods are effective.

  • Lead time

Conclusion Season

  • Use of the analysis by the emergency planning network.

    • Warnings

    • Education of the public

    • Education of specific populations

      • Vulnerable populations

      • Transient/tourist populations

      • The private sector

    • Knowledge about what people do with weather warnings.

Contact information

Dr. Laura Myers, Research Professor Season

Phone: (828) 243-2952


Mail: PO Box 5287, MS State, MS 39762

Ms. Ashley Loftin, Field Coordinator

Phone: (662) 436-0323


Contact Information