|UND atmospheric sciences student designs severe weather poll|
The National Weather Service is constantly vigilant for really bad weather, but when it comes to things like tornado “watch” v. “warning” many people may still be confused, said Vanessa Pearce, a senior who’s double-majoring in atmospheric sciences and Spanish at UND.
“People hear ‘watch’ or ‘warning’ and wonder ‘is that the one I’m supposed to go to the basement for,” said Pearce, a Maple Grove, Minn., native who’s interning this summer at the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Grand Forks. “So I designed a 15-question poll about tornado watches and warnings to evaluate how the public in the Red River Valley responds to them, how they interpret what that information means.”
In a region that’s on the northern edge of the Midwest’s notorious “Tornado Alley,” Pearce and her advisors, Gretchen Mullendore, Rebecca Romsdahl, and Mike Poellot—all faculty in the UND John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences Department of Atmospheric Sciences—say they need to know what the public does with that information. The goal: figure out ways to improve severe weather information that is delivered to the public.
“A misinterpretation of that kind of information could really impact people’s lives and the safety of their families,” Pearce said.
The survey has been up on SurveyMonkey for the last two tornado watches/warnings that have been issued for the Red River Valley. The Valley includes counties along the Red River on both Minnesota and North Dakota sides. There’s a link to the survey on the Prairie Public Broadcasting Web site at http://www.prairiepublic.org/radio/; it’ll soon be linked on other sites, too, Pearce said.
The survey—which is Pearce’s senior project—will be up until the end of September. Pearce will tabulate and analyze the survey results and will report her findings to her department and to the National Weather Service, which—along with UND’s Institutional Review Board—approved the survey before it was published on the Web.
For more information, contact Vanessa Pearce, UND Department of Atmospheric Sciences, at (701)757-0144 or firstname.lastname@example.org
-- Juan Pedraza, Writer/Editor, University Relations, email@example.com, 777-6571