TULSA - If you heard me announce the approaching tornado was "unsurvivable," would it get your attention?
That's the hope of an experimental tornado warning that began Monday in a handful of National Weather Service Offices. The hope is to scare you into taking cover.
The goal for these upgraded Tornado and Severe Thunderstorm Warnings is to be much more definite, clear, and hopefully bold enough to get you and your family off the couch and into your safe room or closet.
What is frustrating is that many tornado warnings are issued on storms that do not produce tornadoes.
The reality is that because so many tornado warnings are issued, many do not take cover, thinking this is likely another "false alarm." Using Doppler radar we can see many tornadoes before they form. However, every indication a tornado is forming does not produce a tornado. This has led to many thinking the media is just "crying wolf," and this has created apathy.
These enhanced warnings will contain verbiage such as "catastrophic," "mass devastation," and "unsurvivable."
The experiment will take place in NWS offices in Kansas and Missouri using a three-tier tornado warnings to describe the severity and possible impact.
Meanwhile, I'm working on a story on the one year anniversary of the Joplin tornado .
There were reports after that storm of many who were confused by the earlier tornado warnings and when the massive EF-5 moved into town, some confused the sirens as an "all clear" alert.
The three-tier Tornado Warnings will be:
Standard Tornado Warning: Much like what we have today.
Potentially Dangerous Situation Tornado Warning: The tornado has been sighted and is on the ground.
Tornado Emergency: A very large tornado is on the ground headed towards a populated city.
I am glad the National Weather Service is trying this out on a limited basis before rolling it out nationwide.
We most definitely do have a problem with too many warnings being issued. The public is tired and many times non-responsive because too often a tornado warning does not mean a tornado has formed.
Anything that we can do to be more specific and cause people to take shelter would be an improvement.
Still, I have concerns.
When I speak with groups and schools, it surprises me how many do not know the difference between a watch and a warning.
Many times we have preached having a "safe place" to go during a tornado warning.
However, when I ask for a show of hands for who has had a practice tornado drill in their home, few raise their hands. These more specific warnings are in order to help, not confuse.
I'm anxious to see how this test goes. My hope is it will help us and the viewers better understand the weather threat.
Do you think the test will help? Tell me your thoughts in the comments section below.