The last in a series of tornado town hall meetings will be held at the Newcastle Storm Shelter, 851 North Carr Drive on Thursday, October 4th. The free meeting will begin at 7:00 PM and end around 8:30 PM.

 

The tornado town hall meeting is free and open to the public, but the researchers hope to attract mostly residents of Newcastle and surrounding communities.  A meeting on September 6th focused on the Norman area, and the second meeting on September 24th was held in Moore. Participants will first fill out a brief questionnaire, then participate in small and large group discussions.  People will be asked about local perceptions regarding how risk prone different towns are, where tornadoes go and do not go, and where/how they obtained this knowledge.

 

The goal of the research is ultimately to better communicate tornado risk in real-time to the public.  A study done following the April 27, 2011 tornado outbreak in the southeast U.S. revealed that local risk perceptions shaped the way people understood and responded to the outbreak as it happened.  Scientists communicating about tornado threat know nothing about how these perceptions influence behavior, and to communicate better, steps must be taken to understand and account for these other ways of knowing.

 

“We’re learning that local beliefs can influence people’s perceptions of threat from tornadoes nearly as much as any information we’re providing them,” said Kim Klockow, of the University of Oklahoma College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences. “If we hope to make a message that people understand, we need to know how people in our local area think about tornadoes. We know a lot about the weather, but we know much less about the beliefs or local knowledge of the local people who are experiencing it.”

 

Funding for the research is provided by the University of Oklahoma Department of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences, and the project involves researchers from OU A&GS, the Cooperative Institute of Mesoscale Meteorological Studies, and the National Weather Service.