The rest of the story, however, missed the point. It attributes the low death toll to, "luck, happenstance, timing, faith, heroics, preparation, and the seasoned experience that comes with living in the heart of Tornado Alley for the relatively low victim count." The article goes on to tell of teachers shouting for their students go get into hallways and get down. If you wish to read that story, it is here.
But, how did the teachers know the tornado was coming? How did people know it was time to take shelter and how to save their lives?
Readers have to go to USA Today's web site to read the primary reason so many survived. In a story titled 16-Minute Tornado Warning Saved Lives (sigh!) a fuller picture emerges. But, you have to read a while. It starts:
That's how much of a warning the residents of suburban Oklahoma had before a tornado dropped out of a cloud onto the ground a few miles west of Newcastle, Okla.
But, if you keep reading,
The warning system for this tornado "worked well," said AccuWeather meteorologist Mike Smith.
Also, while the warning for the tornado was "only" 16 minutes, the tornado didn't hit the center of Moore until about 34-36 minutes later, he adds.
Additionally, "the area had been warned for days" that severe storms were possible, [Dr. Marshall] Shepherd adds, and a tornado "watch" was issued more than two hours before it hit Moore, Smith says.
The story still doesn't have it completely right. The "16-minutes" refers to the time from when the tornado warning was issued (scroll down to posting below) at 2:40 pm to when the tornado first touched down in an empty field west of Newcastle, Oklahoma. Newcastle had about 23-minutes of warning.
The west part of Moore had 36 minutes of warning. It crossed Interstate 35 an amazing 42 minutes after the warning was issued!
So, yes, we get some recognition but one has to search to find it.
A rare exception this morning is the local Oklahoma media. There is a story about David Andra, the chief meteorologist of the NWS office in Norman, that issued the excellent warnings for Moore. His daughter's home was made uninhabitable by the tornado.
Some Other Thoughts Before I Give My Talk
Congratulations are also due to my colleagues at AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions for their outstanding work warning our clients (and we have several) in Moore. Nice, nice job!!
I've easily had ten emails and other communications asking, "Why don't schools have safe rooms?" Wichita's schools do and pioneered their installation. Other districts may wish to emulate Wichita. That story, from The Wichita Eagle, is here.
If you have found all of this interesting the last few days, I recommend my book Warnings: The True Story of How Science Tamed the Weather. It is a book about the people and the storms that lead to the creation of the amazing warning system that saved so many lives in Moore.
A reader posted a new review at Amazon (where the book enjoys a 5-star rating) yesterday. The review, in part, states:
This book is really interesting because it tells the story of how people and technology changed everyone's lives. There are also interesting stories for those who enjoy severe weather.