Because of the death and destruction in Joplin, Missouri two years ago, there's a new and different kind of weather warning.
Brian Foley remembers the tornado that ripped through Thurman, Iowa last year. “I got out of town.” Mary Kesterson knew the only church in town is never locked. “So we ran to the basement of the church.”
Thurman was lucky that no one died, but in Joplin, 158 people lost their lives. Surveys done after the storm found some people did not realize quickly enough how dangerous the situation was. So now there’s an experiment with new storm warnings designed to literally scare us into action. The weather service isn't pulling any punches.
“This is a life-threatening situation…you could be killed if not underground or in a tornado shelter…complete destruction of entire neighborhoods is likely.”
Here’s another warning tested last year. “Significant house and building damage possible…mobile homes completely destroyed if hit…some trees uprooted or snapped…vehicles will likely be thrown by tornadic winds.”
These explicit warnings will not be used for the average thunderstorm. In fact, they will likely be used only in extreme cases, but if we hear one the message is clear, seek shelter immediately.
“I'm for anything that will get people to take action.”
You may have heard the sirens sound in Douglas County around 10 a.m. Wednesday. It was a test for the National Weather Service's Severe Weather Awareness Week. Similar tests are scheduled for the first Wednesday of every month through the warmer months.
Also Wednesday, the Federal Department of Housing & Urban Development announced a $113 million grant to help Joplin recover. That brings the amount of federal aid to Joplin to more than $350 million.