National Weather Service expanding tornado warning termsFargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Last year tornados killed 550 people in the US, one of the deadliest on record. This year the National Weather Service is looking at ways to strengthen the message in certain Tornado Warnings.
Last year tornados killed 550 people in the US, one of the deadliest on record. This year the National Weather Service is looking at ways to strengthen the message in certain Tornado Warnings.
The images from the Dallas-Fort Worth area yesterday of large tornados moving through densely populated areas are a reminder of the storms in Missouri and Alabama last year.
Many people in those storms said they didn't take the warnings seriously because other warnings in the past had not produced tornados in their area and the regular tornado warning had become common place.
George Youngs – NDSU Emergency Management Professor: "You have to catch people's attention, no matter what message you send. If they aren't paying attention to you, it's a loser"
Now the weather service is experimenting with adding language to warnings to better depict the storm strength. Five offices in Missouri and Kansas are using the new language that will include: Significant damage is ongoing or threat to human life and catastrophic damage.
While the Dallas office is not included in this trail even their warning yesterday were written stronger with stronger language such as extremely dangerous and potentially deadly. But if the warning is too strong they could also cause too much fear.
George Youngs: "Too much fear can potentially, I hate to use the word freeze action, but it can divert people's thoughts from the actual danger of doing something specific.”
During the Wadena tornado in our area in 2010 a Tornado Emergency was declared, which is the current higher threat level that is supposed to let people know that a tornado is heading into a heavily populated area. After this storm season is over the weather service will evaluate whether they will expand the program.
About 650 houses were destroyed in Tuesday's storms, but no deaths have been reported.