Public perception and comprehension of the extended forecast graphic in television weather broadcasts

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University of Alabama Libraries

There have been multiple efforts in recent years to simplify visual weather forecast products, with the goal of more efficient risk communication for the general public. Many meteorological forecast products, such as the cone of uncertainty, storm surge graphics, warning polygons, and SPC convective outlooks, have created varying levels of public confusion resulting in revisions, modifications, and improvements. However, the perception and comprehension of private weather graphics produced by television stations has been largely overlooked. The goal of this study is to explore how the extended forecast graphic (EFG), more commonly known as the 7-day, 10-day, etc., is utilized by broadcasters and understood by the public. Data were gathered from two surveys of the general public and one survey of broadcast meteorologists. Results suggest this graphic is a source of confusion and highlights a disconnect between the meteorologists producing the graphic and the content prioritized by their audiences. Specifically, timing and intensity of any precipitation or adverse weather events are the two most important variables to consider from the viewpoint of the public. These variables are generally absent from the extended forecast graphic, thus forcing the public to draw their own conclusions which may differ from what the meteorologist intends to convey. The placement of forecast high and low temperatures, use of probability of precipitation, icon inconsistency, and length of time the graphic is shown may also contribute to public confusion and misunderstanding. Four alternative EFGs are evaluated in this research, and it is found that showing fewer days on the EFG and removing PoP information can increase the usefulness of the EFG and reduce confusion created by the graphic, without lessening the graphic’s likeability.

Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Geography, Geographic information science and geodesy