NOAA, or the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, has been interviewing survivors from May’s deadly tornado in Joplin to find out how it can better save lives in the event of another devastating storm. The agency oversees the National Weather Service, which is in charge of sending out severe weather alerts.
By Jennifer Moore (Springfield, Mo.)
NOAA is grappling with how many survivors said they heard the sirens, but didn’t act quickly—that’s according to Dick Wagenmaker, the meteorologist who led the NOAA assessment team in Joplin.
“Instead of taking immediate action to shelter, most people didn’t take protective actions until they received additional confirmation of a threat and indications of the seriousness of that threat – and they got that from a non-routine, extraordinary trigger,” he said.”These kinds of things included going out and actually seeing the tornado – and fortunately as tornadoes go, this one was was fairly slow-moving. Also, turning on the TV and seeing images of the tornado being broadcasted was a triggering mechanism.”
Wagenmaker said the National Weather Service is considering changing the wording in its severe weather alerts when there is a very dangerous tornado, in the hopes that it will catch more people’s attention. It will also be looking into developing different siren tones, depending on the severity of the storm.
The National Weather Service also plans to take advantage of GPS systems by relying more on text messages and Smartphones to get those warnings out.