Applying Human Factors to Improve Forecasting


There are increasing demands by the public and private sectors for weather information being placed on weather services worldwide.  These increased demands have resulted for a number of reasons, including global warming, urbanisation, changes in leisure activities (i.e., sports and outdoor activities requiring detailed weather information), and businesses (i.e., vineyards, power utilities) exploiting the economic benefits of detailed weather information.  With these increased demands for weather information comes a reasonable expectation of accuracy.  In addition, “Each year, tens of thousands of lives are needlessly lost and many billions of dollars in avoidable economic impact result because of the inability to reliably forecast and warn decision makers and the public about impending weather hazards.” * This has never been more in the minds of the public than now, given the devastation in the hurricane ravaged Gulf Coast states in the United States in 2005, and other natural disasters from around the world.  Therefore, in addition to possible legal issues, weather agencies must improve weather predictions to yield financial savings ± and savings in life, property, and infrastructure. 

Course Objectives


Conditions such as stress, fatigue, work schedules, equipment design, new technology, standard operating procedures, organisational cut backs, training, decision making under uncertainty and time pressure, and communication within the weather services and with outside organisations all influence human performance.  To blame an individual for producing a poor forecast is to ignore all these factors and more, and stopping at this “conclusion” does little to help in reducing recurrence and improving operations. Decades of research in safety-critical and high-risk environments (i.e., aviation, medicine, nuclear power) has shown that between 70 to 90 percent of accidents and incidents can be traced to some form of human error; with some arguing 100 percent when viewed systematically. The notion of an “Organisational Accident” proposed by Professor James Reason illustrates that errors can occur at the management level – in the development of policy and procedures – in the same way that errors can occur on the frontline (i.e., shop floor, cockpit).  This course will examine how human performance issues (i.e., stress, situational awareness) and organisational factors influence operations in the workplace.  A comprehensive and systemic approach to identifying and understanding these factors has proven particularly useful in the aviation industry, and others, in helping organisations improve safety and their operations.  This course will also explore the potential use of such a programme and possible benefits of understanding these factors in the weather forecasting domain.

Who should attend?

Operational forecasters, supervisors, senior management, personnel from informational technology, and researchers from national Public, Private, and Military weather services; as well as personnel from Emergency/Disaster Management Organisations.


Course Outline



Weather Hazards and their Costs in Various Domains


Introduction to Human Factors


Human Error


Human Performance (e.g., stress, fatigue)


Operational Decision Making in the Weather Domain


Team Dynamics in the Workplace


Information dissemination and communication


Situational Awareness


Organisational Influences


Automation and Technology in the Workplace


Quality Management System (QMS)


Case Studies from around the world


Group Exercise using the Critical Incident Technique


Take Home



Comprehensive course notebook


Operational examples and solutions


Certificate of completion


Course Duration, Location and Tuition

Course Duration: 5 days.

Fee: $1975.00 USD

Location: Various locations – In-house available.


All Dutcher SMS courses can be delivered to your offices and tailored to your organisation's needs. If you have a group of 5 or more individuals for this course, please contact us and we will provide you with information about bringing this course to your offices at a time convenient for you and your staff. For courses delivered in the United Kingdom, all prices are in UK Pounds (GBP).  For courses delivered in all other European countries, all prices are in Euros. For delivery in other countries, please contact us.


Regular Facilitators: Mike Doiron and John Dutcher


For More Information

Download Course Brochure:

"Applying Human Factors to Improve Forecasting" (83 kb)

Related Course Downloads:

Weather Risk Management (62 kb)


* United States Group on Earth Observations (2004). Societal benefit technical reference document: Improving weather forecasting. Retrieved November 20, 2005 from

Klein, R., and Pielke, R. A. (2002).  “Bad weather? Then sue the weatherman!” A review of legal liability for predictions and forecasts. Part I: Public sector forecasts. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 83, 1791–1799.

± Jones, D. (2001). Forecast: 1 degree is worth $1B in power savings. USA Today, 19 June. Retrieved November 20, 2005 from

© Dutcher Safety & Meteorology Services (2003 - 2008)
Last Updated: 10 Apr 0