Communicating weather forecasts and warnings

DCCMS TV WeatherWeather forecast from Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services (DCCMS) in Malawi by meteorologist Noel Banda.

Enhancing communication practices and capacity of the NMHSs is a key factor to better meeting the needs of people and institutions for usable, useful and exchangeable weather information. A forecast has not fulfilled its purpose until it has reached and is understood by its intended audience. Technical capacity building is therefore increasingly complemented by a focus on communication and service delivery.

We build on social science expertise that spans across the research and operational domain of weather information service development and delivery. Theoretical and methodological expertise from the fields of science communication, social psychology and human geography are helpful in supporting meteorological practices at NHMSs to translate forecast products into useful, usable and exchangeable information. Moreover, the extensive expertise around user-producer interactions that surrounds the Yr weather service increasingly helps the capacity building activities of MET Norway to build on first-hand experience to develop user-oriented outcomes.

Building communication capacity is ideally based on a ‘first mile’ approach that puts the people first. A first mile approach refers not only to end-users and societal share-/stakeholders, but also to the role of human dimensions in the forecasting and communication practices of NMHSs. This means in practice for example, that communication capacity building can help reach specific user groups in a more efficient way by systematically selecting novel communication channels (such as digital communication).

Another example is to explore, together with forecasters of local NMHSs, what challenges and opportunities exist in interacting with their audiences.