Convective Mode and Communication in Tennessee: Tornado Warning Challenges for Forecasting within the National Weather Service

Authors: Megan Porter*, University of Tennessee, Dr. Kelsey Ellis, University of Tennessee, Dr. Lisa Reyes Mason, University of Tennessee
Topics: Climatology and Meteorology, Hazards and Vulnerability
Keywords: Climatology, Convective-modes, National Weather Service
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The purpose of this study was to assess how storm convective mode influences National Weather Service (NWS) warning procedures and communication between officials and their county warning area (CWA). Interviews were conducted at the Morristown, Nashville, and Memphis NWS Weather Forecasting Offices (WFOs) to gain insight of operation challenges during tornadic events and how these might be correlated with false alarms rates (FAR), lead times, and amount of engagement in communication with the public. Qualitative analysis was performed by coding the interviews to evaluate what convective modes were the easiest and the most difficult to detect and warn. It is a consensus of the state’s NWS forecasters that the super cellular storms are easiest to warn and prepare for. Due to the high number of linear storms in Tennessee, there is greater risk and vulnerability with quasi-linear and linear convective modes. These capricious linear modes are difficult for forecasters to warn, leading to more individual decision making and variation in FAR and lead times. The varied procedures within these offices have the potential to be consolidated and used for updated policy measures throughout the state in order to more effectively convey potential convective-mode related risks and vulnerability of the public, particularly communities with inadequate infrastructure and a misunderstanding of appropriate weather safety response. This project demonstrates the variability of state convective modes and WFO warning procedures, and may be replicated in other states to expand and maximize forecasting and warning methods, ultimately lessening public vulnerability.

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