Communicating with Rural Populations during Severe Weather

  • January 30th, 2018

Dr. Cory Armstrong, department chair of journalism and creative media at The University of Alabama, has been awarded a research grant  from the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium.

The grant funds an examination of risk perception and behavioral intention in rural and urban communities in both Alabama and Mississippi.

“The first thing we want to know is how people receive severe weather notifications—are they watching television, are they talking to their friends or are they checking social media?” said Armstrong. “Then we want to try to determine which specific words and visuals motivate them to action and which steps they take to prepare for severe weather.”

The study will test six different types of weather simulations often employed by broadcast meteorologists on volunteer participants in Biloxi, Pearlington, Mobile and Magnolia Springs. The participants will answer survey questions aimed at determining the effectiveness of each simulation.

Armstrong will use this research in developing guides for broadcasters, media personnel and meteorologists about effective ways to reach rural populations during severe weather outbreaks.

“The biggest outcome of the research will be the best practices recommended to broadcasters for how to most effectively inform the public,” said Armstrong. “If we can point out the key words and methods for how to announce severe weather then ultimately we can help to save lives.”

Dr. Chandra Clark, UA assistant professor in journalism and creative media, will work alongside Armstrong in this study. Additionally, ABC 33/40 Chief Meteorologist James Spann will support the research by creating video simulations used in the study and offering his expertise as a weather expert.

The National Sea Grant College Program, administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is a federal/state partnership that matches NOAA Sea Grant expertise and resources with state academic institutions. The Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, created in 1972, is one of 33 Sea Grant programs. To learn more about the MASGC, visit their website.

The College of Communication and Information Sciences’ faculty and students at The University of Alabama conduct cutting-edge research that creates knowledge and provides solutions to global issues across the full communication and information spectrum. The department of journalism and creative media is a part of the College of Communication and Information Sciences. To learn more about its research initiatives, visit


Dr. Cory Armstrong, 205-348-7155,


Rand Nelson, 205-348-6416,

The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.