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The Influence of Situational Risks and Outcomes on the Perceived Usefulness of a Weather Radar Display

Authors: Michelle Saunders*, University of South Florida
Topics: Climatology and Meteorology, Communication, Qualitative Research
Keywords: Radar, Perception, Weather, Mixed-methods, Tampa
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Weather information is widely available across many media platforms including television, computers, tablets, and smartphones. In addition to forecast information, people are seeking and tools such as satellite images and weather radar displays. However, little is known about how these information sources are used and perceived as decision-making tools among members of the public, despite the existence of radar since the 1940s. This study is the second phase of a mixed-methods research project that aims to understand how Tampa Bay Area residents use weather radar displays. This phase examines how participants construe distance, time, certainty of occurrence, and severity of precipitation events when using a weather radar display. Participants also express what decisions they make as a result of viewing radar. Interviewees include 30 individuals from the phase one survey group. The study design uses six weather scenarios to gauge how participants interpret different aspects of precipitation events when using a radar display. Overall the majority of interviewees indicate that they find a weather radar display to be very useful. Many participants use a weather radar display as an exploratory information source, regardless of a weather forecast. Participants agree that using a weather radar display helps them to feel confident when making decisions about real-time precipitation events but are slightly less confident during events where a west to east weather pattern is not present. This study also addresses interpretations of warnings during severe weather events.

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