'Warning fatigue' major problem for forecasters
The National Weather Service has awarded The College at Brockport a certificate recognizing the school as “storm ready.” That means taking steps like creating an emergency operations center, developing a hazardous weather plan, and having several ways to alert the public, including cell phone alerts and emergency blue light stations.
The goal is to avoid warning fatigue.
“With Hurricane Irma, some people did not evacuate because they’re from Florida and they’ve seen so many hurricanes in their day,” said Margaret Jividen, a College at Brockport student and member of the school’s Meteorology Club. “So while you may get a notification on your phone saying tornado warning, I’ve seen people just go, ‘Oh, you know what? Nothing usually happens.’ If it’s going to be out in the public and as a campus we are saying, ‘There is a tornado warning, you need to take x precautions,’ it’s taken a little more seriously.”
The Storm Ready certificate must be renewed in three years, because meteorological technology is always changing.
“Now we get more information from a radar scan than we used to, and that gives us much more information about storm structure and severity,” said Scott Rochette, a College at Brockport meteorology professor. “And that’s critical, because that translates to more timely warnings, longer lead times, and potentially lives saved.”