Finding #8: After the significance of this event was apparent, Tornado Warnings and Severe Weather Statements lacked enhanced wording to accurately portray that immediate action was necessary to save lives with this tornado.
Recommendation #8: WFO warning forecasters should use wording that conveys a sense of urgency in warnings and statements when extremely dangerous and life threatening weather situations are in progress.
This recommendation is based on a very limited study of a sample of precisely one case (that of the Joplin, MO tornado). This is pretty minimal evidence on which to base changes to the warning system. I don't accept this recommendation as sufficient justification to tinkering with the wording in weather warnings. A primary rule when considering changes to a system that has saved tens of thousands of lives over its history: first, do no harm! There's no solid foundation of peer-reviewed science to support changes to the warning system. This is not to say that the existing system is perfect. Far from it, but the IBW experiement is not the way to identify and address the problems within the existing system.
Check out the IBW site to find the following statements regarding the "experiment" (using public warnings):
- Provide additional valuable infromation to media and Emergency Management officials
- Facilitate improved public response and decision making
- Better meet societal needs in the most life-threatening weather events
Do we have any evidence that the proposed changes will improve public responses? How will 'public responses' be measured in order to ensure that any improvement in responses has, in fact, been a result of these changes? And if we don't know precisely what are proper responses, will any changed responses necessarily be an improvement?
Just what are these 'societal needs' and how were they chosen? Again, how will the meeting of these unspecified needs be measured?
- Optimize the convective warning system within the existing structure
- Motivate proper response to warnings by distinguishing situational urgency
- Realign the warning message in terms of societal impacts
- Communicate recommended actions & precautions more precisely
- Evaluate ability to distinguish between low impact and high impact events
Again, what is a proper response? And how will it be demonstrated the the proposed changes will accomplish motivating a proper response?
I thought the NWS was a weather forecasting agency, not an impact forecasting agency. In what way have forecasters been educated and trained to forecast impacts? Knowing impacts in advance is pretty difficult to achieve.
The topic of 'call to action statements' can be debated - even assuming this is a good thing to do, how will it be shown to be more "precise" communication? What is meant by "precision" of communication?
So there is no study that has actually shown the ability of weather forecasters to discriminate between high and low impact events? It seems pretty evident that until such a study has demonstrated that ability in a convincing way, this experiment is pretty ill-advised. Using the public as experimental subjects is not a good idea!
Enhance warning through
- Improve communication of critical information
- Make it easier to quickly identify the most valuable information
- Enable prioritization of key warnings in your area of interest
- Indicate different levels of risk within the same product
- Enable the National Weather Service to express a confidence level of potential impacts
Has it been shown in a broad-based, perr-reviewed study that the proposed changes will improve the identification of critical information. Again, how will the improvement be measured. How is the value of information to be determined?
Has it been shown in careful studies that it is possible to identify diferent levels of risk?
This is an ill-advised experiment at this time. Much more needs to be done before we start messing with the existing warning system that goes out to the public. It is also ill-conceived: this is not even remotely a reasonable design for a proper experiment. The IBW 'experiment' is little more than a thinly-disguised effort to do something just for the sake of being able to say, "See, we're doing something!"