New Social Science Research Study Strives to Reach Audiences Vulnerable to Flooding

New Social Science Research Study Strives to Reach Audiences Vulnerable to Flooding and Underserved by the National Weather Service; Focus Groups Start in North Dakota and Nebraska

In September 2022, the Nurture Nature Center received a new social science research grant from The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration entitled “Expanding Audiences, Removing Barriers, Promoting Action: Addressing the diverse needs of audiences for flood forecast information”. The three year project aims to identify communities across the country that are vulnerable to flooding and underserved in receiving and using National Weather Service flood forecast information, due to social and economic vulnerabilities, limited internet access, or other barriers.

For the past several months, the research team has worked closely with our NWS partners, including Pocatello, ID Weather Forecast Office (WFO), Wilmington, NC WFO, and Middle Atlantic, North Central, and Missouri Basin River Forecast Centers, to identify and engage with diverse communities with high flooding risk. In each of these communities, we are connecting with community-based organizations (CBOs) to build trust in the community and learn more about localized flooding challenges. After completing rounds of virtual interviews with forecasters and CBOs, we are working with our NWS partners to create localized scenarios of extreme flooding events to collectively walk through during in-person focus groups.

The fun part just started! On Monday, July 10th the research team traveled to Grand Forks, ND/East Grand Forks, MN to lead a focus group about flooding issues on the Red River with a special focus on rural communities close to the Canadian border. The following day, the team visited Columbus, NE for a focus group in a community that has repeatedly faced flooding and sits right on the boundary between two NWS WFOs.

Loup River in Nebraska

In each focus group, we met with residents to discuss how they currently receive flood forecast information, how they want to receive that information, and how the flood forecast products themselves could be altered to make them easier to understand and more usable. Now that we’re back home, we are starting to analyze our results and make tweaks to the forecast products so that we can go back to the same communities in a few months to retest the adjusted products with a new group of residents.         



Photos from our trip to Grand Forks, ND.

East Grand Forks and Columbus were just the first two stops of many we will make throughout the fall and into the spring for this new grant project. Keep an eye on the Nurture Nature Center’s Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages for updates on our travels. 



Photos from our trip to Omaha and Columbus, NE

Contact Kathryn Semmens, or Rachel Hogan Carr,, with any questions.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 2022 Joint Technology Transfer Initiative under grant number NA22OAR4590170. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of NOAA.