‘’Sirens” is a must have for all people with even a tiny interest in severe weather. The author, Mike Smith, meteorologist and scientist, investigates the catastrophic failure of the public weather warning system before and during the giant tornado that swept through Joplin, MO on May 22, 2011.Mike includes riveting stories of those that survived and those that didn’t. His definitive examination of all the moving parts in the warning system is hard hitting and he spares no person deserving blame. This book is quite refreshing as it applies transparency to a life shattering event that many times would not easily be available to the public.With all of the high tech hardware and software developed in the years prior to the Joplin tornado, this system failure should not have happened. The author explains the the event and the rupture of the safety net in a fashion where the reader feels like he or she was present in Joplin on the 22nd of May 2011, a very dark day indeed.Gary EnglandConsulting Meteorologist in Residence at Oklahoma UniversityBS Mathematics & Meteorology, Oklahoma UniversityDoctor of Humane Letters, Oklahoma University
Unfortunately, things have not improved since Sirens was written.
Just last week, the National Weather Service failed to issue a tornado warning in advance of the major Eureka, Kansas, tornado. The next day, the National Weather Service in St. Louis did issue a tornado warning that was a false alarm. Thousands took tornado precautions for no good reason. Why do I mention the latter? Because there is no consistency in how National Weather Service offices issue tornado warnings and there are few "best practices."
Something is wrong at the National Weather Service, an organization for which I have great respect. Its mission to warn the public-at-large of storms is vital.
Yet, statistics show National Weather Service tornado warning accuracy peaked in 2007 and has declined since. Anecdotal evidence indicates flash flood warning accuracy has also deteriorated. And, when something goes wrong, the NWS investigates itself as it did in Sandy, Joplin and other storms.
When the Sirens Were Silent sold out of its paper copies a few months after it was published. It is available as an ebook for $2.99. I priced it very low as part of my goal to prevent a recurrence. Read it for yourself and make up your own mind.
-- Because of the importance of this topic, I'm leaving this posting at the top of the blog through the Independence Day holiday. Also, for more on the Eureka warning problem, scroll down to see the raw data. --