New, ramped-up tornado warnings to start Monday | St. Louis Public Radio

New, ramped-up tornado warnings to start Monday

Apr 1, 2012

As of Monday, the National Weather Service will be issuing a new kind of tornado warning in Missouri and Kansas.

The new, more forceful and explicit messages are designed to get attention and drive people to take shelter during dangerous storms.

Weather service officials say studies after deadly tornadoes in Joplin, Mo., and other parts of the country last year found that most people didn't heed the initial warnings about the oncoming storms.

They also say people in tornado-prone areas have become desensitized by frequent false alarms and don't always pay attention to the first warnings.

"We'd like to think that as soon as we say there is a tornado warning, everyone would run to the basement," said Ken Harding, a weather service official in Kansas City. "That's not how it is. They will channel flip, look out the window or call neighbors. A lot of times people don't react until they see it."

The new, "impact-based" warnings will describe how much damage a storm could cause. Examples include: "COMPLETE DESTRUCTION OF ENTIRE NEIGHBORHOODS IS LIKELY" and "MASS DEVASTATION IS HIGHLY LIKELY MAKING THE AREA UNRECOGNIZABLE TO SURVIVORS."