Thursday, April 28, 2011

Weather and Societal Impacts

As expected, much of the day has been spent assessing the damages associated with yesterday’s devastating tornado outbreak in the southern US.  Currently, this is being ranked as the third deadliest event since 1950.  For one of the American Meteorological Society subgroups in particular, there has been a useful discussion thread which has been very active today.  One of the more interesting contributions from today’s discussions is shown below:
From:    Societal Impacts Discussion Board
Subject:     [reply] Re: Storms Across the Southern US

This tornado outbreak seems to have struck a chord with many of us interested in the weather/society interface. There are seemingly endless questions that are being asked and that warrant finding answers.
Is there interest among the WAS*IS community to create some sort of coordinated weather/society research effort to study this event? The NWS will almost certainly perform a service assessment, which will reveal a lot, but might only scratch the surface of what happened. I have students who would also be quite interested in contributing to such an effort in some way or another. And it seems like if people are planning to investigate this event anyway, it might help to share ideas and possible approaches. Thoughts?
As a Board Member of the AMS Board on Societal Impacts, I will be involved with organizing a session (along with Tanja Fransen of the NWS) on extreme weather events and their subsequent impacts for the 2012 AMS meeting.  In the 2011 meeting this past January, the Impacts session focused on the Russian heatwave and flooding in Pakistan.  Speakers discussed the physical causes for the events, as well as the economic effects across the affected regions.  Similarly, I expect that this recent outbreak of severe weather in the southern US may be a suitable platform for discussions at the 2012 meeting.  The coming days and weeks will provide a better assessment of the human and physical toll that this severe weather event left behind, and I am soliciting suggestions for topics and/or speakers who will be studying this event with something that is scientifically useful to contribute to the attendees.
Please contact me via email if you have suggestions or wish to discuss.

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