Following safety precautions during a tornado can increase your and your family's chances of survival.
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When tornadoes strike, proper shelter can make the difference between life and death. Because of this, many organizations make it their goal to protect those who find themselves in the path of severe weather. The FEMA offers an abundance of information for those interested in constructing safe rooms for individuals, families, or communities. The National Storm Shelter Association has a complete listing of all storm shelters available.
Listen to weather radio broadcasts online at NOAA Weather Radio.
Occasionally, tornadoes develop so rapidly that advance warning is not possible. Because of this, it is important to know and be able to spot possible signs of an approaching tornado:
Watches & Warnings: Tornado Terms
Tornado Watch: A tornado watch indicates the development of a tornado is possible in your area.
Tornado Warning: A tornado warning indicates that a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar.
Severe Thunderstorm Watch: A severe thunderstorm watch means a severe thunderstorm is possible.
Severe Thunderstorm Warning: A severe thunderstorm warning means a severe thunderstorm is occurring.
For more information on warnings and current weather conditions in Northeast Oklahoma visit the National Weather Service Forecast Office or click here for a list of watches, warnings and advisories in effect for all of Oklahoma.
Polygon Weather Warnings
The National Weather Service issues four different types of short-term warnings: tornado, severe thunderstorm, flash flood, and special marine warnings. These warnings indicate severe weather is expected within the next few hours. Warnings are issued for an entire county or cluster of counties; therefore, when any one part of the county is threatened, the entire county essentially receives the warning.
County size and shape can improve or worsen statistics. It is much more likely to verify a warning within a very large county rather than a small county.
Since 1998, the NWS forecast offices have used a new computer system, the Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System (AWIPS), along with new warning software, WARNGEN, to produce short-term warnings. The WARNGEN software allows meteorologists to draw a polygon to outline the geographic area threatened. The software is then used to build a template of the warning that can be used to transmit the warning. WARNGEN adds the latitude-longitude coordinates of the polygon to the end of the warning text. So, meteorologists have the opportunity with WARNGEN to outline a polygon showing the area of severe weather. Although NWS meteorologists do have the capability to issue polygons with their short-term warnings, there is a noticeable tendency for forecasters to crop the polygon to existing county boundaries. This is likely due to concern about the effect of accidentally warning for more than one county at a time. The WARNGEN software has a tool that allows the warning polygon to fit within one or more county outlines. This tends to create polygons with many vertices, matching the irregular shape of counties.
A new verification mechanism will be required for this new system. This would verify warnings based on weather occurring within the polygon rather than within county boundaries. One advantage of changing to a polygon verification system is that results could be delivered almost immediately using automated GIS techniques. Another impacted area is dissemination. In the future, the NOAA Weather Radio system could be modified to allow targeted areas by polygon rather than counties. This could lead to much reduced warned areas and therefore provide better service.
Make A Disaster Kit
When preparing for a tornado, or any natural disaster, you should have a disaster supply kit. Your kit should include the following items:
Here are the features to look for:
1. The radio should be battery-operated.
2. The radio should be NOAA-approved.
3. Is the radio one that you, not the salesman, can easily program to suit your needs?
4. Is the radio alarm loud enough to wake you?