I attended a seminar on Tornadoes and Severe Storms on Sat, April 6, 2013. It was hosted by WGN-TV in Chicago. I learned a few interesting things that I thought were worth sharing.
First of all, there are an average of 1500 tornadoes reported each year, worldwide. But the Great Plains and Upper Midwest of the U.S. are considered the “Epicenter” of Tornadoes worldwide because the greatest concentration of tornadoes occur there.
The science of weather prediction has made significant advances in recent years. This includes the ability to spot a tornado, or potential weather patterns that could form a tornado, well before it hits. But the general public often does not respond to these warnings.
One reason, quite likely, is that when a tornado watch or warning is given, no indication is given of the potential magnitude of the event. Over the course of the past 5 years, 97% of the deaths due to tornadoes that occurred were the result of only 13% of the tornadoes.
In other words, for 87% of the tornadoes that occurred there were little or no fatalities. Only about 1 out of 10 tornadoes are deadly.
So the key would be to know when such a tornado is heading your way. That is what meteorologists are working on now. When they predict rain, or snow, they give an indication of the potential magnitude of the event. Our planned activity on any given day will be much different if 2 feet of snow is predicted instead of 2 inches.
Its not clear yet just what this new warning system will look like. In what way will the public be warned of the potential magnitude of a pending tornado? But hopefully it will be done in such a way that the public can have a greater indication of just when they need to take shelter. And hopefully they will.