21st Conf. on Severe Local Storms


The ideal lead time for tornado warnings—A look from the customer's perspective

Rick Ewald, NOAA/NWSFO, Hastings, NE; and J. L. Guyer

The protection of life and property due to impending severe weather is the primary responsibility of the National Weather Service (NWS). To accomplish this, NWS personnel strive to issue severe weather warnings as far in advance as is feasible. This brings up the question, how much advance warning (lead time) is needed to ensure the public has time to react and move to a safe location? One might say, as much time as possible. However, given the present state of the science, unlimited (or even hours of) lead time is not realistic. Another consideration that must be addressed would be, is it possible to have too much lead time in a warning?

This study looks at two user groups with a vested interest in severe weather warnings, schools and health care facilities (hospitals and nursing homes). Questionnaires were sent out to the administrators of these groups that reside in the NWS Hastings, Nebraska County Warning Area. This includes south central Nebraska and north central Kansas. Example questions include: "What is the minimum time needed to get everyone to a safe location?" and "What do you feel is the ideal lead time for a tornado warning?" Several enlightening answers to these and other questions were derived from the study and the results will be presented.

extended abstract  Extended Abstract (64K)

Session 7, Hazard Mitigation and Societal Impacts of Severe Storms
Tuesday, 13 August 2002, 4:30 PM-5:45 PM

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