National Weather Service Hydrology Products: Influencing Factors of People’s Effective Use and Optimization Suggestions
Floods are one of the most destructive disasters in the United States, causing tremendous economic, life, and property losses to human society. Hydrology weather forecast products can be effective tools for preventing hydrological events from becoming disasters and reducing their losses. Yet, there is a lack of research on how people interpret weather forecast products, particularly uncertainty products, and how this varies with different geographic locations, flood experiences, socio-demographic factors, and risk perceptions of flooding. Further, rarely has research considered weather forecast product design and characteristics of users as a coherent system. It is of great significance to systematically study the interaction between weather forecast product design and users' characteristics to improve information transmission efficiency to the public. This study is a part of an ongoing NWS-funded project exploring the influencing factors behind people’s use and understanding of National Weather Service Hydrology Products. The situational factors investigated include geographic location, flood experiences, and socio-demographic characteristics (age, gender, and educational level) and their relationship with risk perceptions of flooding and product utility. Two structural equation models (SEM) were created in AMOS software to analyze the relationships between situational factors of people, risk perceptions, product characteristics, and user’s understanding and use of the products. Spearman’s correlation analysis and SEMs were applied to analyze surveys of focus group participants from Durango, CO, Eureka, CA, Gunnison, CO, and Owego, NY, four locations representing different hydrological regimes. In this project, the NWS hydrology products are the hydrograph, Probability of River Level Forecast, and Briefing Packages, with major emphasis on the Hydrologic Ensemble Forecast System (HEFS), a product that presents the uncertainty of extreme river levels. This research found that no significant relationships between different situational factors and risk perceptions of flooding after using the NWS forecast products, whereas there were significant relationships with some factors of people’s situational factors (status, flood experience, and geographic location) and people’s perceived usefulness of NWS products and their elements but not with others (age, gender, and educational level). Meanwhile, professionals, people with more flood experience, and people with higher perceived usefulness of NWS products and their elements will significantly have more usage intention of NWS products as well as intended actions based on them. Further, people with more flood experience and higher perceived usefulness of NWS product elements will significantly understand these products better; people with higher risk perceptions of flooding will significantly have more intended actions after using these NWS forecast products, even though they may not significantly have more usage intention of these products. Finally, while people with higher usage intention of NWS forecasts products will significantly have more intended actions after using these products, people who understand these products better will not significantly have more intended actions. The results of this research suggest that, when designing NWS products, it is critical to recognize the factors that lead to both more and less understanding and use of products. One product, especially those explicitly incorporating uncertainties, will not serve all equally, so taking into account the range of users’ situational factors and needs can lead to an optimal, though not perfect, products.
Jiang, Zizhan. (May 2021). National Weather Service Hydrology Products: Influencing Factors of People’s Effective Use and Optimization Suggestions (Master's Thesis, East Carolina University). Retrieved from the Scholarship. (http://hdl.handle.net/10342/9056.)
Jiang, Zizhan. National Weather Service Hydrology Products: Influencing Factors of People’s Effective Use and Optimization Suggestions. Master's Thesis. East Carolina University, May 2021. The Scholarship. http://hdl.handle.net/10342/9056. June 20, 2021.
Jiang, Zizhan, “National Weather Service Hydrology Products: Influencing Factors of People’s Effective Use and Optimization Suggestions” (Master's Thesis., East Carolina University, May 2021).
Jiang, Zizhan. National Weather Service Hydrology Products: Influencing Factors of People’s Effective Use and Optimization Suggestions [Master's Thesis]. Greenville, NC: East Carolina University; May 2021.
East Carolina University