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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) — Are you confused by the difference between a “watch” and a “warning”? You’re not alone. Despite years of education, many Americans are confused by that and some of the other terms used to describe weather threats. The problem is, the people who create weather information don’t know what the people who use weather information really need and want and don’t speak the same language. In an effort to address this, social scientists have been brought in to help bridge the gap. Their specialty is communication and understanding how people think and react to information.
This past Wednesday, the Center for Advanced Public Safety (CAPS), held a Workshop for Enterprise Partners at the University of Alabama. The meeting brought together representatives from the National Weather Service, emergency managers, law enforcement, social scientists, engineers and broadcasters. The entire CBS 42 weather team was there as well. Ted’s report above gives an overview of what we learned. For me, the biggest take-away was the need to find more effective ways to find out what the public understands. We, as broadcasters are charged with communicating life-saving information. However, we may not be adequately meeting the needs of our viewers. This is something we at CBS 42 will be addressing in the weeks and months to come.