Monday, April 16, 2012

UPDATE: 10:05 PM MDT - Tornadoes Tornadoes Tornadoes. WARNING. Be Prepared!


  1. Tornadoes Kill 6 Across Great Plains
    Fox News‎ - 1 hour ago
Tornadoes take sixth life in Oklahoma
CBS News‎ - 5 hours ago


A tornado funnel cloudTornadoes are nature’s most violent storms. Spawned from powerful thunderstorms, tornadoes can cause fatalities and devastate a neighborhood in seconds. A tornado appears as a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud that extends from a thunderstorm to the ground with whirling winds that can reach 300 miles per hour. Damage paths can be in excess of one mile wide and 50 miles long. Every state is at some risk from this hazard. Some tornadoes are clearly visible, while rain or nearby low-hanging clouds obscure others. Occasionally, tornadoes develop so rapidly that little, if any, advance warning is possible. Before a tornado hits, the wind may die down and the air may become very still. A cloud of debris can mark the location of a tornado even if a funnel is not visible. Tornadoes generally occur near the trailing edge of a thunderstorm. It is not uncommon to see clear, sunlit skies behind a tornado.

Before a Tornado

  • To begin preparing, you should build an emergency kitand make a family communications plan.
  • Listen to NOAA Weather Radio or to commercial radio or television newscasts for the latest information. 
  • In any emergency, always listen to the instructions given by local emergency management officials.
  • Be alert to changing weather conditions. Look for approaching storms.
  • Look for the following danger signs:
    • Dark, often greenish sky
    • Large hail
    • A large, dark, low-lying cloud (particularly if rotating)
    • Loud roar, similar to a freight train.
    • If you see approaching storms or any of the danger signs, be prepared to take shelter immediately.

During a Tornado

If you are under a tornado warning, seek shelter immediately!  Most injuries associated with high winds are 
from flying debris, so remember to protect your head.
A structure (e.g. residence, small building, school,
nursing home, hospital, factory, shopping center,
high-rise building)
  • Go to a pre-designated shelter area such as a safe room,
    basement, storm cellar, or the lowest building level.
    If there is no basement, go to the center of an
    interior room on the lowest level (closet, interior
    hallway) away from corners, windows, doors, and outside walls.
    Put as many walls as possible between you and
    the outside. Get under a sturdy table and use
    your arms to protect your head and neck.
  • In a high-rise building, go to a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
  • Put on sturdy shoes.
  • Do not open windows.
A trailer or mobile home
  • Get out immediately and go to the lowest floor
    of a sturdy, nearby building or a storm shelter.
    Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer
    little protection from tornadoes.
The outside with no shelter
  • Immediately get into a vehicle, buckle
    your seat belt and try to drive to the closest
    sturdy shelter.
  • If your vehicle is hit by flying debris while
    you are driving, pull over and park.
  • Stay in the car with the seat belt on.
    Put your head down below the windows;
    cover your head with your hands and a blanket,
    coat or other cushion if possible.
  • If you can safely get noticeably lower
    than the level of the roadway, leave
    your car and lie in that area, covering
    your head with your hands
  • Do not get under an overpass or bridge.
    You are safer in a low, flat location.
  • Never try to outrun a tornado in urban
    or congested areas in a car or truck.
    Instead, leave the vehicle immediately for
    safe shelter.
  • Watch out for flying debris. Flying
    debris from tornadoes causes most
    fatalities and injuries.

After a Tornado

Injury may result from the direct impact of a tornado or it may occur afterward when people walk among 
debris and enter damaged buildings. A study of injuries after a tornado in Marion, Illinois, showed that 50 
percent of the tornado-related injuries were suffered during rescue attempts, cleanup and other post-tornado 
activities. Nearly a third of the injuries resulted from stepping on nails. Because tornadoes often damage power 
lines, gas lines or electrical systems, there is a risk of fire, electrocution or an explosion. Protecting yourself 
and your family requires promptly treating any injuries suffered during the storm and using extreme care to 
avoid further hazards.


Check for injuries. Do not attempt to move seriously injured people unless they are in immediate danger of 
further injury. Get medical assistance immediately. If someone has stopped breathing, begin CPR if you are 
trained to do so. Stop a bleeding injury by applying direct pressure to the wound. Have any puncture wound 
evaluated by a physician. If you are trapped, try to attract attention to your location.


Here are some safety precautions that could help you avoid injury after a tornado:
  • Continue to monitor your battery-powered radio or television for emergency information.
  • Be careful when entering any structure that has been damaged.
  • Wear sturdy shoes or boots, long sleeves and gloves when handling or walking on or near debris.
  • Be aware of hazards from exposed nails and broken glass.
  • Do not touch downed power lines or objects in contact with downed lines. Report electrical hazards to the 
police and the utility company.
  • Use battery-powered lanterns, if possible, rather than candles to light homes without electrical power.

  •  If you use candles, make sure they are in safe holders away from curtains, paper, wood or other flammable
  •  items. Never leave a candle burning when you are out of the room.

    • Never use generators, pressure washers, grills, camp stoves or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or 

  • charcoal-burning devices inside your home, basement, garage or camper - or even outside near an open
  •  window, door or vent. Carbon monoxide (CO) - an odorless, colorless gas that can cause sudden illness 
    and death if you breathe it - from these sources can build up in your home, garage or camper and poison
    the people and animals inside. Seek prompt medical attention if you suspect CO poisoning and are feeling 
    dizzy, light-headed or nauseated.
    • Hang up displaced telephone receivers that may have been knocked off by the tornado, but stay off the
     telephone, except to report an emergency.
    • Cooperate fully with public safety officials.
    • Respond to requests for volunteer assistance by police, fire fighters, emergency management and 

  • relief organizations, but do not go into damaged areas unless assistance has been requested. Your 
  • presence could hamper relief efforts and you could endanger yourself.


    • After a tornado, be aware of possible structural, electrical or gas-leak hazards in your home. Contact 
    your local city or county building inspectors for information on structural safety codes and standards. 
    They may also offer suggestions on finding a qualified contractor to do work for you.
    • In general, if you suspect any damage to your home, shut off electrical power, natural gas and propane 
    tanks to avoid fire, electrocution or explosions.
      • If it is dark when you are inspecting your home, use a flashlight rather than a candle or torch to avoid the 
    risk of fire or explosion in a damaged home.
      • If you see frayed wiring or sparks, or if there is an odor of something burning, you should immediately 
      shut off the electrical system at the main circuit breaker if you have not done so already.
      • If you smell gas or suspect a leak, turn off the main gas valve, open all windows and leave the house

    1.  immediately. Notify the gas company, the police or fire departments, or State Fire Marshal's office and do
    2.  not turn on the lights, light matches, smoke or do anything that could cause a spark. Do not return to your
       house until you are told it is safe to do so.


      • Wear sturdy shoes or boots, long sleeves and gloves.
      • Learn proper safety procedures and operating instructions before operating any gas-powered or 
      electric-powered saws or tools.
      • Clean up spilled medicines, drugs, flammable liquids and other potentially hazardous materials.
      for more information please see READY.GOV

      -----------------------------------------------END OF UPDATE----------------------------------------------------

      100 Tornadoes, but Plenty of Notice

      Tornadoes, snow - that's springtime in Minnesota

      By Andy Greder
      Updated:   04/15/2012 10:24:34 PM CDT

      What's going on? On Sunday, April 15, we were wringing our hands on the threat of tornadoes while shaking our heads at a forecast of snow overnight.
      It might seem like a strange spring in Minnesota, but the National Weather Service in Chanhassen says "not really."
      "It's fairly unique, but it's mid-April in the northern Plains, so it's not all that uncommon," meteorologist Shawn DeVinny said. "It's a strong springtime system, and it can happen."
      Last year, in fact. After tornadoes hit western Wisconsin in April 2011, flurries flew the next day, DeVinny said.
      So, Sunday's severe weather across central and southwest Minnesota and the Twin Cities metro area wasn't so odd. Strong thunderstorms, including reports of hail, tornadoes and funnel clouds, ripped across the state in the afternoon. Into Monday, a few inches of snow could fall in Brainerd and up to a half foot in International Falls, DeVinny said.
      "People shouldn't be too surprised, but they are," DeVinny said of the reaction he has seen on social media.

      ......................end update............................

      Midwest tornadoes: 5 dead in Okla.

      A tornado moves on the ground north of Solomon, Kan., on Saturday evening, April 14, 2012, with I-70 seen in the foreground. (AP Photo/The Hutchinson News, Sandra J. Milburn)
      Last Updated 7:44 a.m. ET
      (CBS/AP) OKLAHOMA CITY - Tornadoes erupting across the Midwest and Plains left five people dead and several others injured in Oklahoma and damaged houses, a hospital, a jail, an Air Force base and other buildings during a weekend outburst of severe weather, authorities said.
      Oklahoma emergency officials said five people died before dawn Sunday after a tornado hit in and around the northwest Oklahoma town of Woodward, the high winds damaging homes, toppling trees and downing power lines in that area about 140 miles northwest of Oklahoma City. The brunt of the damage was reported on the west side of the town of about 12,000, and in the neighboring community of Tangier.
      Storms also were reported in Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska as a severe storm system raked its way across the nation's midsection Saturday and Sunday. Lightning, large hail and heavy downpours accompanied the system.
      more at CBSNEWS

      Three states in 'bull's-eye' after storms kill 5

      By the CNN Wire Staff
      updated 9:51 AM EDT, Sun April 15, 2012

      Wichita, Kansas (CNN) -- Three states face the most danger of possible tornadoes Sunday, as parts of the Midwest assess the damage from storms that left at least five people dead in Oklahoma.
      The National Weather Service received 121 reports of possible tornado touchdowns Saturday and early Sunday in Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa.
      Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback told CNN Sunday that "97 tornadoes touched down" in his state; the National Weather Service has not confirmed the exact number of twisters.
      While severe weather could continue to hammer much of the region, the states in the "bull's-eye" for the most dangerous conditions Sunday will likely be Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa, said CNN Meteorologist Alexandra Steele.
      Authorities call on everyone in the region to follow weather reports and make emergency preparations.
      About 5 million residents from Wisconsin to Texas "need to be on guard," Steele said.
      "Some of the bigger cities that could see isolated tornadoes, large hail and damaging winds are: Green Bay, Chicago, St. Louis, Little Rock, and Houston."
      Five people, including two children, died from injuries related to a suspected tornado in the northwest Oklahoma town of Woodward early Sunday morning, said Amy Elliott of the state Medical Examiner's Office.
      source: CNN

      Tornadoes rake Wichita area, causing significant damage

      A tornado swept through south Wichita on Saturday, causing significant damage but apparently no major injuries.
      Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems took a direct hit, officials said, as did the Oaklawn neighborhood and a mobile home park.
      Preliminary reports said 100 trailers in the mobile home park were damaged when the storm hit shortly before 10:30 p.m. In the Oaklawn area, two homes were destroyed and several others were damaged. Two residents were taken by ambulance to area hospitals, while many others were injured but did not go to the hospital.
      In all, hospitals reported seeing about a dozen patients as a result of the storm in the metro area, which also left thousands of customers without power.
      At nearby Spirit AeroSystems, six buildings were significantly damaged and four others had major damage.
      A preliminary assessment by city and county officials estimated the overall loss in the Wichita area to be as much as $283 million.
      At 12:25 a.m., Sedgwick County Commission Chairman Tim Norton declared a state of disaster, which will initiate an emergency plan and notify state officials that additional support and assistance may be needed. Gov. Sam Brownback declared a state of disaster emergency.
      Pinaire Mobile Home Park near 52nd Street South and Clifton was heavily damaged, and in the middle of the complex a fire that was apparently caused by a ruptured gas line was burning.
      Kristin Dean, who lives in the park, said she was one of 75 to 100 people who took refuge in the park’s shelter.
      “Things were flying and everyone screamed,” she said. “We all kind of huddled together.”
      She said the noise from the storm lasted 15 to 20 seconds. When it was over, she said, some trailers were on fire and others were missing.
      Power lines were down, she said, and car windows were broken. The smell of natural gas filled the air.
      She said the park was “pretty much gone. It’s devastating, but you know, we’re alive.”
      Emergency vehicles were having trouble getting to the park because of extensive damage to trees and power lines in the area. Many emergency responders arrived on foot.

      Severe Weather Tracker

      Thunderstorm Forecast


      Severe Weather Tracker

      Read more here:

      -----end update----

      Plains states hit by tornadoes, brace for more

      A lightning strike is seen near the water tower of Benkelman, Nebraska April 12, 2012. REUTERS-Gene Blevins
      1 of 4. A lightning strike is seen near the water tower of Benkelman, Nebraska April 12, 2012.
      Credit: Reuters/Gene Blevins

      OKLAHOMA CITY | Sat Apr 14, 2012 7:51pm EDT

      (Reuters) - Tornadoes touched down in Oklahoma, Nebraska and Kansas on Saturday and residents of the U.S. Plains states braced for a predicted major outbreak of dangerous nighttime twisters.

      Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes were expected in the evening over parts of the three states, the National Weather Service said, and severe storms were also possible from Texas to Iowa to South Dakota and Minnesota.

      "Conditions will remain favorable for strong to violent and possibly long-lived tornadoes into the overnight hours," the National Weather Service said in an advisory on Saturday afternoon.

      "Tornadoes during the overnight hours can be particularly dangerous because they are usually fast-moving and obscured by rain and darkness," it added.

      No deaths or injuries were immediately reported from Saturday's tornadoes by early evening. Violent twisters appeared restricted to mostly underpopulated areas.

      In northwestern Oklahoma, a tornado touched down for less than a minute in the afternoon, said Rick Smith, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Norman. Tennis-ball-sized hail fell in the region, the weather service said.
      A tornado also hit Mustang, a suburb of Oklahoma City, before dawn, the weather service confirmed. One home had major roof damage, and trees, power lines and fences were down, said Kristy Yager, a spokeswoman for Oklahoma City.

      "We'll have storms all night long in Oklahoma," Smith said.

      The pair of Oklahoma twisters hit a day after a tornado sliced across Norman on Friday afternoon.

      In Kansas, a tornado touched down near Tipton in the north-central part of the state, taking tin off a building, said Mike Moritz, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. A tornado in southwest Kansas damaged buildings on two farms in Rush County, said James Fisher, emergency management director for the county.

      "We have weathered the first part of the storm," Moritz said. "We will see what happens tonight."

      Tornadoes briefly touched down on Saturday afternoon in Nebraska's Nuckolls County and Thayer County, but no major damage was immediately reported, Moritz said.

      Bad weather in that state led to the cancellation of Saturday's Red-White Spring Game at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. The football scrimmage will not be rescheduled, university officials said.
      "It's disappointing for the players who I know look forward to this day and it's disappointing for the fans, but what are you going to do?" Coach Bo Pelini said in a statement. "You have to look at the safety of everyone involved."

      The Federal Emergency Management Agency said the worst conditions were expected to hit late on Saturday between Oklahoma City and Salina, Kansas, while other areas could see baseball-sized hail and strong winds.

      Oklahoma activated its emergency operations center as a precaution ahead of the storms.

      "We really want to make sure that the public is aware that this is a serious threat and make sure that people are prepared," said Keli Cain, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management.

      (Reporting By Corrie MacLaggan and Kevin Murphy; editing by Colleen Jenkins and Mohammad Zargham)

      More than 100 tornadoes strike Plains states Saturday

      updated 2 hours 46 minutes ago
      • Print
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      More than 100 tornadoes were reported across the central United States Saturday afternoon and into the night.
      Kansas and Iowa were hit particularly hard, with more tornadoes reported across Nebraska and northwest Oklahoma. Officials at NOAA reported 103 tornadoes in all by midnight Saturday.
      A tornado emergency was issued for Wichita, Kansas late Saturday night.
      Forecasters are warning residents in the nation's midsection to brace for more "life-threatening" weather.
      The most dangerous weather is expected to come later, and National Weather Service officials have issued a stern warning for residents to prepare for overnight storms that could spawn fast-moving tornadoes. Officials say a large area could be at risk.
      Storms that hit during the overnight hours can be more dangerous, as residents may not be able to hear tornado sirens in their sleep or aren't monitoring news services as closely. When it's dark, it's also more difficult for weather spotters to clearly see funnel clouds or tornadoes.
      Bill Bunting, chief of operations at the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center, says severe weather is possible again tomorrow from east Texas and Arkansas up into the Great Lakes.

      source: msnbc

      Tornado risk factor

      TWC's Exclusive TOR:CON index

      TOR:CON Value Descriptions 
      • 8:High probability of a tornado
      • 6:Moderate possibility of a tornado
      • 4:Low chance of a tornado nearby, but hail and/or strong wind gusts possible
      • 2:Very low chance of a tornado, but hail and/or strong wind gusts possible
      • 0:Near-zero chance of a tornado or a severe thunderstorm 

      Updated: April 14, 20 12:30 pm ET
      Developed by Dr. Greg Forbes, (Find him on Facebook) The Weather Channel's severe weather expert, the TOR:CON index is an estimate of the likelihood of tornado activity within a given time period.

      The TOR:CON values range from 0 to 10. A value of 4 means that there is about a 40% chance of a tornado within 50 miles of a location in the specified area of severe thunderstorm activity. This also means that there is a 60% chance that a tornado will NOT occur.

      Areas listed below have an above-average threat of having severe thunderstorms with damaging winds, hail, and/or tornadoes for the specified days. 

      Saturday April 14
      IA northwest 3 - 4
      IA southwest - 5
      IA south-central - 4
      IA northeast night - 2
      IA west night - 7
      KS central - 9
      KS east - 5
      KS central, northeast night - 9
      KS near Wichita night - 7
      MN extreme southwest - 2
      MN south night - 4
      MO northwest, west-central - 4
      MO northwest night - 7
      NE south - central - 9
      NE north - central - 5
      NE central night - 8
      NE east - 7
      NE east - 6, night - 7
      OK northwest - 9
      OK southwest, central - 7
      OK northeast - 5
      SD southeast  - 2
      SD southeast night - 3
      TX east panhandle - 7
      TX northwest east of Midland to Wichita Falls - 4
      TX northwest near San Angelo to Wichita Falls night - 5
      WI west-central,southwest night - 2
      Other areas - less than 2

      Sunday April 15
      AR - 3
      IL north - 4
      IL central, south - 3
      IN northwest - 2 to 3
      LA northwest - 3
      MI upper - 3
      MI west - 3
      MN southeast - 4
      MO east-central, south - 3
      OK southeast - 3
      TX southeast - 4
      TX rest of area east of I-35 - 3
      WI central - 5
      WI north - 3 to 4
      WI south - 4
      Other areas - less than 2

      --------end update------

      Tornado, severe weather Do's & Don'ts

      Published On: Apr 14 2012 04:31:27 PM CDT
      Storm cell in Nebraska tornado outbreak expected
      In the event of severe weather, keep these safety tips in mind:
      Gene Blevins / Reuters
      ·        STAY INFORMED: Tune in using a weather radio, commercial radio or television for information. During weather emergencies, the NOAA Weather Radio system is used to broadcast timely and important information from the National Weather Service.
      ·        FIND SOLID SHELTER: Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes and should be abandoned. Residents of mobile homes should plan in advance and find shelter in a safe building.
      ·        FIND YOUR 'SAFE SPACE': If you are in a safe, sturdy building, go to a pre-designated "safe room," such as the basement, storm cellar or lowest building level. If there is no basement, go to the center of an interior room on the lowest level, such as a closet or in a hallway. Stay away from corners, windows, doors and outside walls. Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside. In a high-rise building, go to a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
      ·        CLOTHING: Wear sturdy shoes
      ·        DO NOT: Open any windows or doors
      ·        NEVER TRY TO OUTRUN A TORNADO: Either by foot or in a car or truck. Instead, leave the car immediately for safe shelter and watch for flying debris.
      ·        WATCH FOR FLYING DEBRIS: Flying debris from tornadoes causes the most fatalities and injuries.
      ·        BEWARE OF HAZARDS: After a disaster, be aware of possible structural, electrical or gas-leak hazards in your home.
      ·        DO NOT TOUCH: Don't touch downed power lines or objects in contact with downed lines. Report downed power lines and electrical hazards to the police and utility company.
      ·        FLASH FLOODING: If heavy rains are likely, be aware that flash flooding can occur. If there is any possibility of a flash flood, move immediately to higher ground. Do not wait for instructions to move.

      Iowa's first tornado of the year reported south of Greenfield ... - 3 hours ago
      tornado warning is in effect in parts of Madison and Union counties until 7:30. Meteorologists are also warning of flash flooding in west-central Iowa.

      Creston hospital being evacuated after storm; could take 2 days to restore central Iowa power

      8:50 PM, Apr. 14, 2012 

      Storm damage at Sixth and Maple streets in West Des Moines on Saturday.
      Storm damage at Sixth and Maple streets in West Des Moines on Saturday. / RODNEY WHITE/THE REGISTER

      In Iowa:

      Updated at 10:45 p.m.
      As of 10 p.m. Saturday, MidAmerican Energy estimated service restoration for nearly 20,000 Des Moines-area customers now without power could take 36 to 48 hours.

      Updated at 10:30 p.m.
      Officials have confirmed that a tornado struck Creston, according to the Iowa Department of Public Safety. Emergency responders said the tornado hit Southwestern Community College.

      It's not known whether the storm damage at Greater Regional Medical Center, which is being evacuated, was the result of a tornado.

      Tornado reported on the ground near Osceola; about 7000 without power - 2 hours ago
      A trained spotted reported a tornado on the ground two miles northwest of Osceola. Eleven central-Iowa counties are under severe storm warnings.

      Blog: Baseball-size hail, 51 tornadoes reported; hospital damaged in ...‎ (blog)

      ....END UPDATE....

      6:10 update: Tornadoes erupt throughout Ks.

      Topeka Capital Journal - 2 hours ago
      This tornado on the ground near Lyons in Rice County was captured by Capital-Journal photographer as she traveled with a storm chaser crew Saturday ...

      Tornado reported on the ground near Osceola; about 7000 without power - 45 minutes ago
      A trained spotted reported a tornado on the ground two miles northwest of Osceola. Eleven central-Iowa counties are under severe storm warnings.

      Tornadoes hit the Plains

      USA TODAY - 53 minutes ago
      The roof of a strip mall lays in a parking lot after a tornado struck Norman, Okla. Power lines lay in the street in Norman, Okla. Downed power lines litter ...

      Dozen possible tornadoes reported in Okla., Kan., Neb. - 5 minutes ago
      AP A truck drives along Interstate 70 Saturday as a tornado moves on the ground north of Soloman, Kan. By The Associated Press OMAHA, Neb.

      Tornado reported in Oklahoma City as region braces for more

      OKLAHOMA CITY | Sat Apr 14, 2012 11:53am EDT

      (Reuters) - Residents of Oklahoma, Nebraska and Kansas braced for a major tornado outbreak predicted for Saturday, and officials in Oklahoma City said a small twister already had touched down there.

      No injuries were reported from the tornado in southwest Oklahoma City early Saturday. One home had major roof damage, and trees, power lines and fences were down, said Kristy Yager, a spokeswoman for Oklahoma City.

      Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes are expected Saturday afternoon and evening over central and eastern Kansas, central and eastern Nebraska and central and north central Oklahoma, the National Weather Service said.

      The weather service called it a "potentially very dangerous situation" and said severe storms are also possible from north Texas to Iowa to South Dakota and Minnesota.

      "The storm environment appears to be very favorable for supercell thunderstorms capable of producing very large hail and damaging tornadoes for long paths from late afternoon until at least midnight," said an advisory from the National Weather Service. "Fast-moving tornadoes continuing after dark will heighten the risk to life and property."

      Large cities that could be affected include Omaha and Lincoln in Nebraska; Topeka and Wichita in Kansas; and Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Oklahoma, the weather service said.

      "Especially with it being a weekend, we really want to make sure that the public is aware that this is a serious threat and make sure that people are prepared," said Keli Cain, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management.

      On Friday, a tornado was seen near the University of Oklahoma campus in Norman just after 4 p.m. local time - the same town that holds the National Storm Prediction Center, according to Rick Smith, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

      The tornado ripped roofs from buildings, downed power lines and uprooted trees across Norman, a town of 110,000 people 20 miles south of Oklahoma City, television images showed. City Hall was among the structures damaged, Cain said.

      (Reporting By Corrie MacLaggan; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Philip Barbara)

      Day of Tornadoes: Victims of 2011 Cumberland County storms still ...

      Fayetteville Observer - 1 hour ago
      Anyone who says there was no warning before the tornado hit, wasn't paying attention. Forecasters first mentioned the possibility of severe weather over ...

      As Midwest storm bears down, forecasters use more urgent voice in tornado warnings

      The National Weather Service is testing phrases like 'catastrophic' and 'unsurvivable' to describe looming storm systems in a bid to engage Americans’ survival instincts. Saturday's tornado-bearing storm was called 'high-end' and 'life-threatening.'
      Storm clouds gather near the water tower of Benkelman, Nebraska Thursday. Forecasters are warning of a possible major tornado outbreak in the Midwest this weekend, with Kansas and Oklahoma seen at particular risk as early as Saturday.
      Gene Blevins/Reuters

      As a massive storm system crawling into the Midwest sent tornadoes touching down in Norman, Okla., on Friday, the National Weather Service sent out an unusually early and strongly-worded warning, suggesting the system could become a “high-end, life threatening event” through Saturday.
      "We're quite sure [Saturday] will be a very busy and dangerous day in terms of large tornadoes in parts of the central and southern plains," National Weather Service spokesperson Chris Vaccaro told theAssociated Press. "The ingredients are coming together."
      Last year’s devastating tornadoes in Alabama and an early, violent start to this year’s tornado season has forecasters testing a more active, urgent voice to better communicate storm warnings to Americans.
      Other phrases being tested, though not in today’s outbreak, are “mass devastation,” “catastrophic” and “unsurvivable” – all deviations from the weather service’s traditional monotone recitation of warnings and watches.
      Whether more alarmism will actually help break through a “cry wolf” immunity that many Americans exhibit toward tornado warnings – even sirens – is an open question. But it was clear from the strong, early warnings about today’s storms that the National Weather Service is becoming more proactive in trying to communicate both storm severity and potential impacts.
      Forecasters are expecting tornadoes, baseball-sized hail and 70 miles-per-hour winds across parts of IllinoisIowaKansasMissouriNebraskaOklahoma, and Texas as the system moves out of the Rockies, fueled by warm air from the Gulf of Mexico. Erratic upper atmospheric winds could help start tornadoes spinning, forecasters say.
      "All the pieces of the pie are coming together to make a particularly dangerous situation,” according to Accuweather meteorologist Paul Walker.
      Issuing a high-risk warning 24 hours ahead of the potential event is extremely rare for NOAA’sStorm Prediction Center, in Norman, which barely escaped damage when a tornado touched down nearby on Friday. In fact, it had only happened once before, in 2006, when almost 100 tornadoes struck across the South, killing 12 people and damaging 1,000 homes.
      Weather scientists continue to fine-tune new radar and Doppler technology that make it possible to more accurately predict possible tornado strike zones, work hastened by last year’s massive and deadly tornado outbreak in Alabama and several destructive, tornado-bearing storms that have already dogged the Midwest and parts of the South this year.
      But amid evidence that even tornado sirens at times don’t alarm residents, the NWS says better forecasting isn’t enough. Communication, too, has to fit the times and the circumstance, officials say. Too often, warnings sound too much alike. The service is testing the new language in five locations in Missouri and Kansas, and an academic team in North Carolina will investigate findings this fall, after the end of tornado season.
      “We’d like to think that as soon as we say there is a tornado warning, everyone would run to the basement,” Ken Harding, a weather service official in Kansas City, told the Associated Press last month. “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.”
      "With three out of four times that tornado warnings are issued by the National Weather Service, they are false alarms,” adds NBC-17 meteorologist Bill Reh, in Raleigh. “I think people get desensitized and they might not act,” he told the station.
      So are more colorful, urgent warnings warranted or will storm-prone Americans toss it off as hyperbole? A lot will likely depend on how accurately the stronger language correlates with the actual severity of the storms.
      “We live in town and hear the sirens fairly often…. We may have become a little desensitized…. So hearing ‘unsurvivable above ground,’ would probably make us heed the warning more closely,” writes Lona Guntharp Culbertson on Facebook.
      “I think these ‘new wording’ tornado warnings will do nothing but create panic,” writes Rana Gordon Sullivan, also on Facebook. “People are already nervous and anxious on a weather alert day and I feel that the new warnings will be counterproductive.”


       (CNN) -- A possible tornado struck a hospital Saturday evening in Creston, Iowa, according to a dispatcher with the Union County Sheriff's Department. A search-and-rescue operation was under way. 

      "We have been hit. We are triaging and moving patients," a spokeswoman at Greater Regional Medical Center in the south-central Iowa city confirmed. The development came as a series of tornadoes and supercell thunderstorms churned Saturday evening toward larger cities in the southern and central Plains. 

      Storm chasers broadcast images of funnel clouds roaring through rural landscapes. Residents in some areas received new warnings intended to grab their attention and prompt them to find safe shelter. In Kansas, Gov. Sam Brownback issued this advisory: "If you're on the road, get off as soon as you can and find some shelter." 

      The region had 48 preliminary tornado reports by 8:30 p.m. ET Saturday, according to CNN meteorologist Jacqui Jeras. Most were in rural areas and damage was reported to be relatively minor, including downed trees and power lines and minor flooding. The tornado outbreak had been predicted by forecasters, who said there was a "high risk" of severe thunderstorms into Sunday in portions of Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Oklahoma. 

      More than 5 million people live in those risk areas. A tornado touchdown was reported near Medicine Lodge, Kansas, and a large tornado advanced on Salina, Kansas, just before sundown. The National Weather Service's Wichita, Kansas, office, taking part in an experimental warning system, used graphic terms to warn residents of potential harm. 

      The warnings are used by media outlets. Residents near Brookville, Kansas, for example, were told "major house and building damage was likely and complete destruction was possible." At least four apparent tornadoes were reported near Dodge City, in southwestern Kansas, officials said. Two were reported in Rush County. "It's been an interesting day," said meteorologist Mike Scott, adding severe storms arrived earlier than expected. 

       Forecasters said a "dry line" colliding with moist Gulf air was making for dangerous conditions. A dry line is a boundary that separates warm, moist air from dry desert air. "Everything west of that line is very dry and is associated with downsloping winds," Scott said. Four active tornado warnings and four tornado watches were in effect Saturday evening in the region. 

       Two of the watches that extend from Iowa and Nebraska south into Kansas and Oklahoma are "Particularly Dangerous Situation" watches, meaning there is a significant chance of long-track, damaging tornadoes. The tornado threat may increase late Saturday as storms move through more populated areas such as Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Wichita; Omaha, Nebraska; Des Moines, Iowa; and Kansas City, Missouri. 

      Tennis-ball-sized hail and winds of up to 60 miles per hour were reported in Nebraska's Antelope and Boone counties, said Mike Moritz of the National Weather Service office in Hastings, Nebraska. Tornado reports came in from Hardy and Deshler, Nebraska, and Tipton, Kansas. None was a long-track tornado. 

      Rick Smith, warning coordination meteorologist in the agency's Norman, Oklahoma, office, said a line of supercell thunderstorms stretched Saturday afternoon from northwestern Oklahoma to the Texas Panhandle. 

      A tornado formed in Woodward, Oklahoma, Smith told CNN. A brief touchdown was reported. "This is just the beginning of what could be a long afternoon and night, and people should pay attention to warnings," Smith said. No injuries had been reported in Oklahoma by mid-evening Saturday. 

      According to CNN meteorologist Sean Morris, "high risk" areas could possibly endure EF3 to EF5 tornadoes, packing winds of 136 mph or stronger. CNN meteorologist Dave Hennen said the Interstate 35 corridor -- from Oklahoma City to Wichita -- was among the most threatened areas. An elevated severe thunderstorm "moderate" threat extended from northern Nebraska, southward into the tip of northern Texas. 

      This includes Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Kansas City, Missouri. A "slight" risk area extended all the way from Texas to southwestern Wisconsin. A severe thunderstorm is defined by the National Weather Service as a thunderstorm that produces at least one or more of the following: winds of at least 58 mph, hail 1 inch in diameter and tornadoes. 

      The predicted severe storms come as five National Weather Service offices in Missouri and Kansas are conducting an experiment on how to better convey risks from tornadoes and severe storms. The "impact based" warning test, which began earlier this month, comes on the heels of the May 22-27 Midwest/Southeast tornado outbreak, including a tornado that killed 158 people in Joplin, Missouri. 

      The National Weather Service is ratcheting up its efforts to combat complacency, with the help of graphic terms to ensure people find safe shelter. 

      A tornado is confirmed, on average, only once for every four formal warnings. 

      Forecasters in the test area will continue issuing traditional tornado warnings, but for "significant" and "catastrophic" scenarios, they can add information at the bottom of the warnings issued to media outlets.

      When a storm has the potential to cause "significant" damage, meteorologists may include terms such as "major house and building damage likely," "complete destruction possible" or "major power outages in path of tornado highly likely." In a "catastrophic" outlook, descriptions may include "This is a life-threatening situation," "You could be killed if not underground or in a tornado shelter," or "complete destruction of entire neighborhoods likely."


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