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By National Research Council, Division on Earth and Life Studies, Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, Jr. Elbert W. Friday

The file explores how most sensible to speak climate and weather details by way of featuring 5 case stories, chosen to demonstrate a number time scales and matters, from the forecasting of climate occasions, to supplying seasonal outlooks, to projecting weather change.

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There was opportunity for NOAA to take advantage of the high visibility to illustrate its capabilities and for private sector firms to produce marketable ENSO and ENSO impact products. There were shortcomings in the predictions. The rapid development of the El Niño was not predicted successfully. Basing predictions on the 1982-1983 ENSO produced poor results in some parts of the world. However, in terms of human lives and dollars saved, winners exceeded losers in the United States. CASE STUDIES 31 FIGURE 2-10 Diverse forecasts together with uncertainty gave rise to the tendency to ascribe many events to the El Niño.

The Highway Patrol and local police also relayed warnings, kept Interstate 44 clear ahead of a tornado, and routed people around damaged areas. When? Forecasts of the event began 1 day before the outbreak and continued throughout the event. How? Forecasts and warnings were issued by the NWS to commercial outlets and the public via commercial television and radio broadcasts, private 24 COMMUNICATING UNCERTAINTIES IN WEATHER AND CLIMATE INFORMATION sector weather-related companies, and NOAA weather radio broadcasts, and warnings were given by police on the road.

The warnings issued in the Oklahoma City and Wichita metropolitan areas were outstanding in view of the large number of tornadoes and the relatively limited loss of life, in spite of the large population density. The response of the public to this effort was uniformly positive. The NOAA service assessment report (NOAA 1999) noted that the public was “well served” by both the Norman and Wichita WFOs. The efforts of the NWS Forecast Office in Norman; the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety; KFOR, Channel 4; KOCO, Channel 5; KWTV, Channel 9; the Southwest Independent Repeater Association; and the Oklahoma Climatological Survey were recognized with a special award from the American Meteorological Society at its annual meeting in 2001 “for outstanding and well-coordinated actions before, during and after the historic 3 May 1999 tornado outbreak in central Oklahoma, which prevented untold deaths and minimized the impact of the devastating storms” (AMS 2001).

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