Tuesday, May 21, 2013

One More Time: Moore Had Plenty of Warning

I was bombarded by people, including some associated with large media companies, today telling me:
  • Moore had little warning
  • Moore had eight minutes warning
  • Moore had 16 minutes warning
All of those are incorrect. Depending on part of town, Moore had 36 minutes or more of warning! I'm not sure why this is vexing the media as much as it is but the documentation is below:

Here is the tornado warning issued at 2:40pm:
Here is the map of locations and times:

The first damage in west Moore was at 3:16pm. From 2:40 to 3:16 is 36 minutes. That is triple the national average (12 minutes) for tornado warnings. In east Moore, it was more than 40 minutes!

Let's review the entire timeline:

This blog, Sunday and Monday mornings, highlighted the risk for the Moore area


When the tornado warning was issued outdoor sirens sounded, local TV and radio stations ceased regular programming and started continuous coverage. NOAA weather radios alarmed. Smartphone apps activated. Two TV stations’ helicopters were showing the tornado – live – approaching Moore.

In other words, just how much warning do you want?! At some point, this becomes an issue of personal responsibility. It is your obligation to be weather-wise.  Meteorologists cannot lead you by the hand into shelter. 

The National Weather Service did an outstanding job.  Capisce!

14 comments:

  1. Well said! Most media personalities I heard questioning local leaders were wondering why schools don't have safe rooms or basements. I would say most schools are relatively safe but when they're built, noone expects them to have to face 200+ mph winds.

    ReplyDelete
  2. True: It is certainly appropriate to have a conversation about school safety but that is a different issue than "was there enough warning?"

    ReplyDelete
  3. Mike,

    I absolutely agree and have been fighting the same battle with some people. I think, when so many lives are lost, that people want to blame it on the unpredictability of weather. People throw their hands up and say "there was no way to know" or "it's weather, you can't change it".
    In this case there was plenty of warning, there were just no good options on what to do! This is a construction code issue now. There were major changes after Hurricane Andrew to the building codes in the southern USA. It is now time to have a conversation about the building codes for schools and homes in the TX / OK / KS region. They must make safe rooms, partial basements, or storm shelters for people. It needs to be part of the cost of doing business or companies won't install them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree. Even for homes, the building codes only require them to withstand an F1. As we have seen in this case, in Joplin, and in many other American towns, the building codes in tornado prone areas need to be more demanding. If they cannot construct a home to withstand an F3, then it should be required to install some kind of shelter.

      Delete
  4. Well put. I have only become familiar with the 36 minute figure in the last few hours but have been telling people that there was certainly more than the 16 minutes before touchdown warning for Moore. As other have noted, with 200+ mph winds, filled with debris, there is not much hope for standard construction. There will be many hard lessons to be learned from this storm.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Legislating or even regulating personal safety is a slippery slope with the down-side moving us closer to a nanny state. It is astounding how many people live in tornado alley and never give a moment's thought to investing in a storm shelter. "It can't happen to me" until it does.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Let alone the risk, the forecast, the watch ... it's almost as if the NWS did nothing all day, right? #sarcasm

    ReplyDelete
  7. Why does it vex the national media? Because it doesn't fit the narrative....

    ReplyDelete
  8. Great entry, Mike. I was at my dentist's office yesterday (having also been there last Friday) and the staff "marveled" at my having "predicted" the proximity of the events. As I told them, I did nothing but follow what was publicly available on my PC and smartphone. The information is there, is easily accessed and if a person takes time to read or listen, they can avoid danger. It's just too bad a large segment of mass media still doesn't get it.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Mike, The warning went out at 2:40pm. The first touchdown in Newcastle was 5 minutes later 2:45pm. There was EF4 damage 10 minutes later 2:55pm. Moore had plenty of time Newcastle not as much. http://www.srh.noaa.gov/oun/?n=events-20130520-pns

    ReplyDelete
  10. @Chad. Newcastle had 23-minutes of warning, nearly double the national average for tornado warnings (12 minutes). Considering it takes 2-3 minutes to dash into the yard to get into a storm cellar or an equal amount of time to get into the bathtub or closet, I'd say 23 minutes was plenty of time for a person to save their lives.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Mike, The tornado was on the ground 5 minutes after the warning was issued. Yes it was 4 miles West of Newcastle... people still live there. And... I agree 5 minutes is enough. The story is not that the NWS was slow....they were not. The storm exploded. That is the story.

    ReplyDelete
  12. The NWS and the media did a great job of warning the people. I was watching the whole thing on a video stream from one of the OKC stations.

    ReplyDelete