Practical Advice for a Tornado-Ready Nation: Retooling our Tornado Safety Guidance

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Monday, 5 January 2015: 2:00 PM
226AB (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Richard Smith, NOAA/NWS, Norman, OK

For the most part, our current tornado safety guidelines have their roots in the early days of tornado forecasting of the 1950's and 1960's. They are mostly designed for a reactive response and provide last- minute sheltering advice if a tornado is coming toward you. While the safety recommendations are generally still valid, the guidelines lack the elements of planning and preparedness. The forecast skill for tornadoes has greatly outpaced the standard preparedness advice from entities like the National Weather Service, FEMA, and the Red Cross. As forecasts, outlooks and watches continue to improve and provide more reliable advance notice of a tornado, the safety guidelines should be adapted as well.

This presentation will propose an expanded set of tornado safety guidelines that incorporate practical pre-storm actions that will enhance one's ability to maximize their safety in a tornado. Using examples from the May 2013 Oklahoma tornadoes, the presentation will propose guidelines that incorporate some basic research into human warning response, acknowledging how people are most likely to behave in a warning situation.