Storm Chasing Fever - Blog - NOAA Weather Radio or Tornado Warning Siren?
NOAA Weather Radio or Tornado Warning Siren?
Jan 04, 2011
In this blog post I'm going to discuss why buying a NOAA Weather Radio is important and depending on the tornado warning siren to take shelter is dangerous. On New Year's Eve (12/31/2010) a rare tornado outbreak ravaged the central and southern U.S. killing a total of seven people and injuring scores of others. Tornado fatalities have been happening for decades, but sometimes I wonder if the cause is ignited by individuals failing to own a battery operated NOAA Weather Radio. Of course there are other factors that a tornado can hurt people; taking shelter in a mobile home, out-driving a tornado in a car, or not having access to a basement. However, tornado warning lead time issued from the National Weather Service (NWS) has improved dramatically since the early 1990's thanks to improved Doppler Radar systems. You would think the death toll from tornadoes would be lower, but that's a perception.
In my opinion the meteorological community and news media have done a decent job promoting the NOAA Weather Radio. Although, I believe citizens tend to ignore the dangers of not owning such a device. Everyone knows failing to own a smoke detector installed in your home is a hazard. Isn't not having a NOAA Weather Radio a vulnerability as well? What will awake you when there is a tornado secretly at your door step at 2:00 am? I know what you're going to say which is my next point.
Above is an animated gif of a tornado that struck Leighton, Alabama. Security cameras recorded the twister ripping through a parking lot and overturning cars. Imagine the pole in the middle of the animation was a warning siren. If it's taken out by the twister, the siren you depend on is no longer available. This is another reason to have a NOAA Weather Radio for backup.
For decades many rely on the civil defense siren or known as the tornado warning siren. There are a couple of downfalls to this. As more people build property away from cities, these warning sirens have a harder time being heard out in the country. To build a new siren further out in rural areas this can cost taxpayers an enormous amount of money.
What is even more embarrassing is time and time again, these sirens fail when the onset of tornado is occurring in a community. Eagle, Wisconsin (Milwaukee metro) was hit be an EF2 tornado last year causing considerable damage. As the tornado entered the village, the civil defense warning siren failed to sound. During the cleanup efforts, residents were wondering why the siren had failed yet the siren was working fine during it's weekly test a couple of days prior. Another instance was on June 18, 2001. An EF3 tornado struck Siren, Wisconsin killing 3 and injuring nearly 20. Unfortunately at the occurrence of the tornado moving into the village, the tornado siren failed to operate due to a lightning strike.
The tornado siren today wasn't used strictly for tornadoes 50 years ago. Originally it was developed for air raids during World War II and possible nuclear attack during the cold war. Eventually, it was became known as the "Tornado Warning Siren" to alert citizens of imminent danger. What most don't realize is the siren is only meant to warn residents who are outside; not inside! Yet, owning a NOAA Weather Radio in your home alerts you at instant (similar to a smoke detector) when the NWS issues a Severe Thunderstorm|Tornado Warning. You don't have to go outside and listen for that siren to warn you.
So as we head into the new year, let's recommend to your friends and family to purchase a NOAA Weather Radio to protect themselves when threatening conditions approach. If you do buy one, it may sit idle for most of the year just like your smoke detector. However, when that severe thunderstorm or tornado comes approaching your area, would you just rely on the tornado warning siren to warn you? It's a matter of life and death.
Carrol County, GA Tornado Warning Siren Fails: