Grant aims to evaluate emergency weather communication

Local News

A new grant is funding research on how emergency managers communicate important information to coastal communities about hazardous conditions such as severe weather.

The Louisiana Sea Grant awarded $200,000 to LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication and LSU’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Executive Director of the Louisiana Sea Grant College Program Robert Twilley said after a flooding event such as the historic flooding in 2016, they have looked at engineering and computer systems. He said this time, the element of communication, is bringing the evaluation full circle.

“After every major flooding event, one of the things we talk about when we start reflecting back on that event is could we communicate that risk better to our constituents? That idea of making sure people understand the severity of a flood risk is one of the most important aspects of any event when you start reflecting on what you did right and what you did wrong,” Twilley said.

The grant is in the beginning stages at this point. Louisiana State Climatologist Barry Keim said the first step will be surveying emergency managers and the like to see how well they understand the information NOAA and the National Weather Service put out.

“What our goal is is to try to make sure that emergency managers nd other practitioners int he weather world fully understand the products that NOAA is putting out to better understand severe weather.

Once that understanding is evaluated, the grant participants will look at how that information is disseminated to the public. LSU Manship School of Mass Communication Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies Andrea Miller said the role communicators play is important to help people understand the risk.

“It can be complicated, so communicating the risk to the average person at home is important,” Miller said.

Louisiana sits in a spot of multiple weather and climate hazards, making it one of the most vulnerable environments in the world.

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