PL1.1 Communicating Critical Severe Weather Information Across Multiple Platforms In Real Time - Lessons Learned From April 27, 2011

Wednesday, 26 June 2013: 10:30 AM
Tulip Grove BR (Sheraton Music City Hotel)
James Spann, ABC 33/40, Birmingham, Birmingham, AL

The generational tornado outbreak of April 27, 2011 was responsible for 62 tornadoes in the state of Alabama alone, which killed 252 people and injured countless others. From a science perspective, the warning process for these severe local convective storms worked very well; the mean lead time for tornado warnings in the 4.27.11 NWS service assessment area (1) was 22.1 minutes; for many of the violent tornadoes in Alabama the lead time was well over thirty minutes. The probability of detection was 89 percent.

Despite the excellent warnings, the loss of life was exceptionally high, and not acceptable.

Using data from social science research and many hours talking with those affected by the tornadic storms, much has been learned about what worked, and what didn't work on April 27, 2011. As media meteorologists, we must learn from this outbreak and apply the knowledge to our work in future tornado events to save lives. Being on traditional television and radio, and using social media isn't enough; you have to use it correctly, and in a way that reaches the most people in a timely fashion.

1. The Historic Tornadoes of April 2011

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