Playing with Data

Personal Views Expressed in Data

Weather Ready Nation: My Conversation

EDIT (28 March 2012 at 8:40PM CDT):
The title of this post is not a knock on the NWS’ Weather Ready Nation Initiative. I believe it’s a well-intentioned first step. "My Conversation" is merely a reflection of my desire to have a free-flowing, honest grassroots discussion. I offer my opinions as a starting point, not as the solutions.

The month of February saw me take the written portion of my general examination and the first half of March saw me prepare for and defend the oral portion of the general examination. A future blog post will describe in more detail what the general exam process was like, as well as provide a copy of my written question, written response, and oral presentation. I write this as a feeble defense as to why things have been quiet here. That’s about to change…

I won’t go into all the details of everything coming up, but I do want to pass along that I will be visiting the University of Alabama at Huntsville on 4-6 April 2012. The purpose of this visit is to give a seminar (12:45PM on 5 April 2012) titled, “Tornado Warnings: Past, Present, and Future“. In addition to the reasoning listed in the abstract (below), a lot of this seminar has grown out of my interest in the tornado warning process and the work previously posted on this blog. If you are in the area and are interested in attending the seminar, please contact me and I’ll put you in contact with the University. I’m hoping that EMs, Media, and NWS people can attend. As is my policy, the presentation will be posted online after giving it. Furthermore, in support of open science and reproducible research, I will be making available all of my code and data. I hope to do this for all of the research presented in this blog. My philosophy, “Don’t take my word for it; do it yourself, and here’s how you can get started.” (More on this in future posts.)

Tornado Warnings: Past, Present, and Future

2011 saw a record number of tornado fatalities for the modern era (1980-present), even though NWS warning performance was considered excellent by most current measures of service. This leads to the question, “If warning performance was ‘good’ by current metrics, what happened last year?” This question was at the heart of the NWS’ Weather Ready Nation initiative, which seeks to understand why so many people perished. In addition to the Weather Ready Nation initiative, NWS Central Region is undertaking a pilot program to study the feasibility of issuing impact based warnings.

This talk stems from my personal observations and discussions held during the first Weather Ready Nation meeting, focusing on the role of the NWS’ Tornado Warning product and it’s place in the warning process. Trends in tornado warnings, and the increasingly popular tornado emergency, will be presented in the context of how to measure service. Discussion will focus on the questions “Is the current tornado warning process the best it can be?” and “How do we measure ‘service’?”.

It is my belief that the meteorological community stands on a precipice regarding the future of tornado warnings, and a community dialog is needed before embarking on initiatives that we won’t be able to undo. The purpose of this talk is to start a community dialog and stimulate discussion on moving forward. Definitive answers to questions raised will not be provided — they may not exist.

As I state in the abstract, I don’t pretend to have all the answers. I’m merely offering my opinions as a means of starting a conversation — a conversation I truly believe needs to take place. I hope you will participate.