From Bosart (2017):
The last thing we want is to stifle that creative, intuitive culture. Instead I think we want to extract more information from forecasters to understand what they know intuitively.
So, as Rick Smith asked and challenged us, how do we execute these forecasts without stirring anxiety? Good question and at the same time I don't think we know. Tornadoes should cause some anxiety, after all they are dangerous. And they are rare**. Even rarer are outbreak days. And on those days, we have maximum loss of life. So the stakes are higher, and the motivations to communicate these days as outbreaks has the maximum possible reward -- because outbreaks are THE DAYS to save lives!
Lastly, social science work on warnings has been stressing to us that in a crisis people need to personalize the risks, that this event could effect them. While outlooks mostly fall outside the range of a crisis, they are in an unenviable position of creating one -- for days. We know that people need TIME to PERSONALIZE the risk. How much time is enough? Is there too much time?
The goal is to give you time to prepare, time to act, and ultimately time to save your life. While no one intends to scare, we have to be honest about the forecast (mentioning tornados) and honest that it has the power to scare. As careful as we are to use language commensurate with the threats, there will always be just enough uncertainty to humble us. But we don't want that uncertainty to prevent us from identifying those days where lives can be saved. Erring on the side of caution as the stakes get higher has some trade offs, some serious ones. We have to keep working together to find a way, a method of communication that can get us through that anxiety ... alive.
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