Studies have shown that the spatial distribution of severe thunderstorm warnings demonstrates variation beyond what can be attributed to weather and climate alone. Investigating spatial patterns of these variations can provide insight into nonmeteorological factors that might lead forecasters to issue warnings. Geographically weighted regression was performed on a set of demographic and land cover descriptors to ascertain their relationships with National Weather Service (NWS) severe thunderstorm warning polygons issued by 36 NWS forecast offices in the central and southeastern United States from 2008 to 2015. County warning area (CWA) boundaries and cities were predominant sources of variability in warning counts. Global explained variance in verified and unverified severe thunderstorm warnings ranged from 67% to 81% for population, median income, and percent imperviousness across the study area, which supports the spatial influence of these variables on warning issuance. Local regression coefficients indicated that verified and unverified warning counts increased disproportionately in larger cities relative to the global trend, particularly for NWS weather forecast office locations. However, local explained variance tended to be lower in cities, possibly due to greater complexity of social and economic factors shaping warning issuance. Impacts of thunderstorm type and anthropogenic modification of existing storms should also be considered when interpreting the results of this study.

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Published in Weather, Climate, and Society, v. 9, no. 3, p. 421-439.

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