Thinking Outside the Polygon: A Study of Tornado Warning Perception Outside of Warning Polygon Bounds
When the National Weather Service (NWS) issues a tornado warning, the alert is rapidly and widely disseminated to individuals in the general area of the warning. Historically, the assumption has been that a false-negative warning perception (i.e., when someone located within a warning polygon does not believe they have received a tornado warning) carries a higher cost than a false-positive warning perception (i.e., when someone located outside the warning area believes they have received a warning). While many studies investigate tornado warning false alarms (i.e., when the NWS issues a tornado warning, but a tornado does not actually occur), less work focuses on studying individuals outside of the warning polygon bounds who believe they received a warning (i.e., false-positive perceptions). This work attempts to quantify the occurrence of false-positive perceptions and possible factors associated with the rate of occurrence. Following two separate storm events, Oklahomans were asked whether they perceived a tornado warning. Their geolocated responses were then compared to issued warning polygons. Individuals closer to tornado warnings or within a different type of warning (e.g., a severe thunderstorm warning) are more likely to report a false-positive perception than those farther away or outside of other hazard warnings. Further work is needed to understand the rate of false-positive perceptions across different hazards and how this may influence warning response and trust in the National Weather Service.
Krocak, Makenzie; Ernst, Sean; Allan, Jinan; Wehde, Wesley; Ripberger, Joseph; Silva, Carol; and Jenkins-Smith, Hank. 2020. Thinking Outside the Polygon: A Study of Tornado Warning Perception Outside of Warning Polygon Bounds. Natural Hazards. Vol.102 1351-1368. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11069-020-03970- ISSN: 2325-288X