Usefulness of the United States National Weather Service Radar Display as Rated by Website Users

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Atmosphere, Communications/decision making, Geographic information systems (GIS), Societal impacts

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Weather radar is now widely viewed by the general public in the United States via television, computers/tablets, and smartphones. Anyone can consult near-real-time maps and animations of weather radar data when weather conditions are a factor. However, the usefulness of weather radar data for each user depends on a complex interaction of factors. There have been few studies providing conceptual arguments and empirical data to better understand what the most important factors are and to comprehend patterns of public weather radar use across the United States. The first part of this research provides a basic conceptual framework for research investigating the usefulness of weather radar displays as a source of weather information and as a decision aid. The second part aims to uncover several factors that influence the perceived usefulness rating of the National Weather Service (NWS) website’s weather radar display at both national and regional levels using variables gathered from the 2014 NWS customer satisfaction survey alongside relevant geographic and climatological variables. Data analyses include spatial clustering and ordinal regression utilized within a generalized linear model methodology. Overall, respondents who are more familiar with the NWS and their products, as well as those who indicate they are more likely to take action based on information provided by the NWS, are more likely to find the NWS radar display useful. Geographically, the NWS radar display is most useful to persons residing in the southern United States. Lightning is the most important hazard associated with higher radar usefulness ratings.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Weather, Climate, and Society, v. 10, no. 4, p. 673-691