Perception and comprehension of a prominent television weather graphic are examined using survey results from the public and broadcast meteorologists.
There have been multiple efforts in recent years to simplify visual weather forecast products, with the goal of more efficient risk communication for the general public. Many meteorological forecast products, such as the cone of uncertainty, storm surge graphics, warning polygons, and Storm Prediction Center (SPC) convective outlooks, have created varying levels of public confusion resulting in revisions, modifications, and improvements. However, the perception and comprehension of private weather graphics produced by television stations has been largely overlooked in peer-reviewed research. The goal of this study is to explore how the extended forecast graphic, more commonly known as the 7-day, 10-day, etc., is utilized by broadcasters and understood by the public. Data were gathered from surveys with the general public and also from broadcast meteorologists. Results suggest this graphic is a source of confusion and highlights a disconnect between the meteorologists producing the graphic and the content prioritized by their audiences. Specifically, timing and intensity of any precipitation or adverse weather events are the two most important variables to consider from the viewpoint of the public. These variables are generally absent from the extended forecast graphic, thus forcing the public to draw their own conclusions which may differ from what the meteorologist intends to convey. Other results suggest the placement of forecast high and low temperatures, use of probability of precipitation, icon inconsistency, and length of time the graphic is shown also contribute to public confusion and misunderstanding.