Thursday, May 20, 2021

"He Felt Like the Existing Warning System Had Failed Him"

Yesterday's Joplin Globe had an extensive article about the tornado warning system the day of the horrific tornado ten years ago and how the warning system has changed since. The article did a thorough interview of a Joplinite who accidentally drove into the tornado.

The man, Stan Walters, said,

He did not hear the sirens. If he had heard them, he would have stayed put.

While sirens should not be a primary warning method (more below), the fact is he didn't hear the sirens because they were not sounded in a useful manner that day, thus the title of my book about the storm

The good news is that Joplin has completely changed its siren activation policy. The city has created a siren activation web site, which is here. During a tornado or extreme winds, they will activate the sirens for three minutes, turn them off for three minutes, and repeat until the danger has passed. 

Given the advances in technology since 2011, everyone should:
  • Use a tornado watch to tip you off as to when you should be paying attention to the weather. If a tornado watch is in effect, you should begin watching television or listening to radio as the sky darkens due to the approach of thunderstorms. 
  • Know your locale's siren activation policy but realize that it is likely you will only hear them outdoors, so reliance on them is not sufficient. 
  • Use smartphone technology for tornado warnings. Full instructions can be found here. If you follow the the instructions at the blue link, you will create a nighttime "tornado alarm" for yourself. 
  • Television and radio, when staffed by qualified meteorologists remain the best source of minute-by-minute coverage of tornadoes once the initial warning is received.
And, if you haven't already, make sure your "safe place" is ready in case a tornado warning is issued. 

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