Advanced storm warnings could save lives -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Advanced storm warnings could save lives

Jane Hollingsworth, Meteorologist In Charge Jane Hollingsworth, Meteorologist In Charge

The May 22, 2011 Joplin, Missouri tornado was the deadliest single tornado since modern records began in 1950.

This historic event led The National Weather Service to assess their active warning system.

Now, an impact based warning system is being tested across fourteen states in the Midwest.

The goals of the impact based warnings are to provide more information to the media and emergency managers.

But more importantly improve the public response time to create a better understanding in life-threatening weather events.

When you hear the sound of a warning siren, you want to know if you need to brace for a tornado.

The first source of information comes from the warning system alerting the public that dangerous weather is approaching. That is why more specific warnings could lead to saving lives.

"We're trying to put the most important information first. And primarily to get people to know what exactly is going on and exactly how they need to respond to it to protect themselves and their families," said Jane Hollingsworth, Meteorologist in Charge at NWS Tallahassee. 

The Weather Service is now narrowing down the information for the people most likely to be in the path of the storm. 

"Try to get people to take the correct action and more quickly. And what we are trying to do is distinguish between the weaker storms and the very high impact storms," said Jane Hollingsworth. 

"In my hands I have an example of both the traditional based warnings that we use here in South Georgia and the new impact based warnings. There are some key differences between these that may be beneficial to keeping you safe,"  said WALB Meteorologist Ryan Beesley. 

The impacted based warnings clearly highlight the main threat within the storm breaking it down into separate categories hazard, source and impact. Each category helps clarify the significance of the situation. As you can see the traditional based warnings are focused on where the storm is and when the storm will arrive vs. what the storm is producing and how it can impact your area.

Enhanced terminology is already being used across the nation within the warning system to stress the dangers of the storm approaching such as Tornado Emergency. 

"If you think it is going to be a very catastrophic tornado or going to hit a major metropolitan area or town or city. Than it is forecaster discretion whether you want to invoke that type of language. And we do it here," said Jane Hollingsworth. 

It is hard to prove whether if these impact based warnings are helping to save more lives.

But the weather service believes that stressing the most essential information and making the terminology easier to understand will improve public safety.

Weather Emergency Management personal are waiting for validation of the warnings before taking it nationwide.

The process is projected to be finalized in the next year or two, but could take longer.


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