Severe weather warning communication: Factors impacting audience attention and retention of information during tornado warnings

Robert Drost, Mark Casteel, Julie Libarkin, Stephen Thomas, Matt Meister

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Weather hazards in the United States inflict both personal and economic tolls on the public. Communicating warnings about weather hazards is an important duty of TV weathercasters. Televised weather warnings are typically conveyed through live radar, live coverage, and warning scrolls.However, these traditional approaches may not be entirely effective given the limited attention some members of the public pay to these warnings. A study comparing individual responses to a traditional warning, an animated warning, and an audio warning was undertaken to evaluate the impact of delivery methods on viewer attention, retention, and preferences during viewing of severe weather warnings.ATobii T60 eye tracker was used to document visual interactions with onscreen warnings and surveys were used to collect evidence of warning retention and preference. Demographic variables were also collected to describe the study population. Results indicate that viewers of the animated warning retained more pertinent information about the tornado warning than viewers of the traditional warning, and retention during the traditional warning was equivalent to that of the audio warning. In addition, gaze patterns for the traditional warning were muchmore diffuse than for the animatedwarning, suggesting that attention was more focused on the animation than the live video. In addition, modifications to reduce visual complexity of traditional warnings may positively impact viewer attention to individual warning elements. Future studies will consider the effectiveness of a hybrid warning containing both traditional and animated components.The current research study can be used to advance current severeweather warning communication techniques and increase public awareness during severe weather events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)361-372
Number of pages12
JournalWeather, Climate, and Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Atmospheric Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Severe weather warning communication: Factors impacting audience attention and retention of information during tornado warnings'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this