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IWT Seminar Discusses Communicating Severe Weather Events To Public

Today local meteorologists got together with National Weather Service members and emergency management officials to talk about how effectively weather information is communicated to the public.
Today local meteorologists got together with National Weather Service members and emergency management officials to talk about how effectively weather information is communicated to the public.

The goals of this Integrated Warning Team (IWT) seminar were to discuss challenges faced in communicating severe weather events to the public, and ultimately to find ways to work past these difficulties to keep our community safe.

Severe weather is no stranger to us here in the Ozarks!  This is a great reason to bring 50 local community members together -- members of the National Weather Service, media and emergency management -- for the IWT seminar. 

Attendees discussed the challenges presented in times of severe weather.  "Some of the main challenges when it comes to the actions at the weather service, at a television station, here at the emergency management office, ultimately is time," says Steve Runnels with the National Weather Service.  Runnels goes on to explain how the weather community is striving to getting the word out faster during various weather events.

This is all for one main purpose. "To determine what can we do together in order to send a better message to the public and respond to warnings," explains Runnels.

One main topic of discussion was how the public responds to severe weather warnings, versus how they should respond.  "During the workshop we had the chance to hear from a social scientist who told us, unfortunately, people do seek additional information and sometimes that takes too long," says Runnels.  For example, it is common for someone to hear about a tornado warning through one media (like the internet) and then turn to another media (like television) to hear more.  "What we'd like people to do, as soon as they do hear a warning, go to shelter, and then get on the internet or turn on their television and find out just what's going on," explains Runnels.

"When it's bad out there, we all talk together, we all stay together. I think the take away for our citizens, is knowing that that actually happens," says Dale Moore, Public Information Officer with Springfield-Greene County Office of Emergency Management.

Today's discussion will elicit change in how your local meteorologists operate in the future, all with your safety in mind.  "I think what the public is going to get out of this in a few months, a few years, is an improved system that does give you more lead time so that you can better shelter yourself if you've got some storms coming," says Moore.

Another topic discussed was the importance of increasing public knowledge of severe weather.  Here's a way you can increase your knowledge!
Check out the severe weather preparedness event at Battlefield Mall in Springfield this Saturday, March 1st.  The event runs from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.  Meteorologists Jamie Warriner, Lindsey Day, and Chris Smith will be there to greet you!


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