2011-04-27 MISC: AL,TN,MS,KY,OH,IN,WV,GA

Mar 24, 2010
16
0
0
Wichita, KS
We have had the same issue here in Sedgwick County, Kansas, in that the current warning siren system is over 50 years old and sirens cannot be selectively activated. So yes, every single siren in the county is activated regardless of where that particular tornado threat may be located. There are now (finally!) plans to upgrade the system to a new digital system. The new system WILL allow selective activation and only that part of the county that is in the predicted impact zone will have their sirens activated. I believe the new digital system will also have voice messaging capabilities similar to what was heard in the Arab, AL tornado video. McConnell AFB on the southeast side of Wichita also has the digital siren/voice system and I can clearly hear the voice announcements from the base (approx. 1.5 miles NNW from my house) after each siren system test (unless there is a stout north wind).

Clearly the county emergency management staff and the local WFO will have to implement some public education dissemination following the upgrade and this may avert some of the cry-wolf attitudes that those in general public have adopted over the years. But, I agree with others that there will always be some people who will ignore the warnings until it is too late. Additionally, there will always be those people who have to conduct their own self-assessment before they go to their safe place.

I also agree with Mike Smith, who ends his paper "What If They Never Got the Warnings?" with an appeal to the National Weather Service to closely examine the April 27 early morning power failures in Alabama and determine how much of a direct impact this had in the devastating loss of lives.

Here is an excerpt of a story on our county warning system upgrade:

"WICHITA, Kansas -- When a tornado is knocking on the door, what many want to hear is sirens sounding. But without an upgrade to the current sirens in Sedgwick County, what citizens will hear, as of January 1, 2013, is silence.

“Because we will not be able to broadcast emissions within the scope of our FCC license,â€￾ explains Randall Duncan, Sedgwick County Emergency Management.

Tuesday, Duncan presented four options to Sedgwick County leaders. The first option is to do nothing with the current sirens, which are more than 50 years old. This option would mean the county would no longer have outdoor warning sirens after January 2013. The second option is to upgrade the current analog system. This option would keep the sirens blaring after 2013, but is not a permanent fix. The third option is to install a new digital system, replacing the 101 current sirens. Sedgwick County Commissioners decided on the fourth option presented, which upgrades all of the county sirens and includes 52 sirens in the county’s various towns and cities.

“That will benefit them and the entire county because now we will have seamless warning system that's able to target into exactly the area,“ says Duncan.

That means if there is a threat in one area of the county, the sirens will only sound in that area.

“The people in Cheney don't want to shut down their operations if Derby is at risk and it's going in the other direction,â€￾ said Bob Lamkey, director of Sedgwick County Public Safety.

This all comes as good news to those in charge of safety in the smaller communities in Sedgwick County.

“When the storm sirens sound, you will know that we're the ones being affected,â€￾ says Brad Smith, Derby Fire Chief.

The work will cost almost $1.25 million. After final approval from the Sedgwick County Commission, work will begin in the fall of 2011 and should be done by next storm season."

Story is from KSN.com.
 
May 22, 2007
53
4
5
Amarillo, Texas
[...] So far all studies show tornado FARs are _not_ a negative for future events. I'm sure this will be looked at more in depth with time, but desensitization is not a lock as of now.
I've been told that Simmons & Suiter show that a high FAR does negatively impact tornado response for future events. I've ordered the book. Very curious what to see what they say.

Re: Simmons, K.M., Sutter, D. 2011. Economic and Societal Impacts of Tornadoes. American Meteorological Society.
 
May 22, 2007
53
4
5
Amarillo, Texas
[...] One of the things that we all agreed on more importantly than the power outages is the fact that people here don't take Tornado warnings as serious. [...]
Sure, there's a percentage of society that does not take warnings seriously. But, in comparison to other areas, what makes you think that the "heart of Mississippi" has any higher percentage of apathy than other areas of the country? Can you reference studies? I understand that your observations when growing up were that many didn't take it seriously, but how might your perspective have changed as you moved to different areas of the country in later years? Were your observations enough for solid conclusions? Just tossing these questions out there.

I'm by no means a social scientist. I just know that I've not come across any studies that support the idea of differing responses to tornado warnings from one area of the country to another (please let me know of any that I have overlooked). No doubt, it's a really complicated topic and I don't envy the social scientists that have taken on such a study.

I personally believe that power outages and communications disruptions were a greater factor than any unique socio-economical/cultural factors to the region. It can be objectively stated that lack of power significantly limits the options for people to receive warnings, especially since so many rely on television. I doubt that given the same circumstances in another part of the country the outcome with regards to death toll would have been much different.
 
Apr 23, 2010
129
5
6
My first post here. I subscribed to the old Hardcopy Stormtrack 'zine, back when true chasing was at its height. Matt Biddle was nice enough to alllow me to help him during his survey of the 1998 Oak Grove event that has largely been forgotten after being bookended by Jarrell in '97 and Moore/OKC in 99' I have tried to keep some links in one place here:

http://www.bautforum.com/showthread.php/82546-Your-current-weather?p=1882734#post1882734

You have probably seen this, but I include it to be complete
http://www.cbs42.com/mostpopular/story/Tuscaloosa-tornado-caught-on-tape-wreaking-havoc/hsK7dFmlUku5YlvteTFy6A.cspx

More on that railway bridge
http://www.rhondapyatt.com/Weather/Tornado/Tornado-Tuscaloosa-Pleasant/16873905_8fjcrP#1276101479_JCGJZn6

The TUS-BHM event ended just east of Fultondale, by the old Boyles CSX yard, near Ketona, where Jefferson County workers and equipment are based. The funnel [assed aloft over Highway 79 for the most part, passing near where I live in the Huffman Pinson/Clay/Chalkville area by my home. The storm thankfully cycled, then spawned another funnel near the Deerfoot/Argo (there are two Argos in AL) area in Northeast Jefferson county, where other storms have touched down:

http://www.wunderground.com/cgi-bin/findweather/getForecast?query=35173
http://www.srh.noaa.gov/bmx/?n=event_11242001trussville
http://www.alabamawx.com/?p=47393
http://www.alabamawx.com/?p=47214
http://www.alabamawx.com/?p=47391

As you can see from the links above, this storm was to wreak its own style of havoc. As for a name to give to this past months active season, I would suggest the term wear this name: The Ultra-Outbreaks of April 2011.
I keep it. plural, so as to include the April 15 event. Super-Outbreak still has some records, if I understand your links above, yet this month of storms is unquestionably historic, and hopefully will not be repeated in our life-times.

I would hope that perhaps one of you who is retired will scour You-tube and provide a list of links of all tornado funnel videos in one clearinghouse link.

Fujita is gone, but perhaps Tufte, who has made a living in providing compelling imagery, would be interested in doing Lubbock style studies, esp where many cameras record the same phenom. http://www.edwardtufte.com/tufte/

I also lament the fact that TV stations refuse to cover much outside of their markets. Lastly, perhaps all the different TV station weathermen would pool their efforts, (preferably with Grazulis doing a special for Discovery if they would let him and not Weather Channel do the documentary) and release a program where profits go to the Red Cross.

Oh, and Bring Back AM Weather too;).
 
Mar 24, 2010
16
0
0
Wichita, KS
Right here in Wichita, where we have a reputation for supposedly being "tornado-savvy" (my opinion), there are people that I know that have lived here all their lives who still don't take tornado warnings seriously. Mostly because, from my perception, of the "cry wolf" syndrome. I definitely think upgrading the siren warning system to a digital system will help, especially if the public education aspect on the upgrade is done correctly.

I also want to say that I definitely support Mike Smith in urging the NWS to take a very close, serious look into how the power disruption effected the awareness of the people who died. Granted many of the tornadoes were so strong that you had to be completely underground to survive, but I feel it would be very telling to re-create or re-trace, if you will, their activities leading up to the event. Granted a study of that kind would probably take an enormous amount of time and resources to accomplish.

I'd also like to say that Mike puts forth an excellent theory of resources in his paper that responds to people who are put in a similar situation in the future.
 
Jun 21, 2004
1,528
32
11
Kearney, NE
bigstormpicture.com
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_QUdgoVesk&feature=related

Video from in the path of tornado in Tuscaloosa. They turn off the camera and go for cover at the end, just before it strikes.
Man, talk about a good example of how cameras have changed public safety. Maybe the National Weather Service should insert language into each warning to the effect of "Do not try to stand out on your balcony and film the tornado until the last second. Take shelter now."
 
Apr 23, 2010
129
5
6
A lot of celebrities here the past week. Charlie Sheen, Bill Cosby, Condi Rice, who makes her home here now. What with the death of Bin Laden, the Royal Wedding , we actually need TMZ level coverage, so as to combat those two most horrible words in the disaster lexicon--compassion fatigue.
 
Jan 7, 2008
537
7
11
46
Bryan, TX
Quote Originally Posted by MClarkson View Post
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_QUd...eature=related

Video from in the path of tornado in Tuscaloosa. They turn off the camera and go for cover at the end, just before it strikes.

Ryan McGinnis:
Man, talk about a good example of how cameras have changed public safety. Maybe the National Weather Service should insert language into each warning to the effect of "Do not try to stand out on your balcony and film the tornado until the last second. Take shelter now."
Well, that one guy was waiting to see the effects on the trees. Perfectly understandable :) He was going to do a quick DI examination of hard woods:
http://www.spc.noaa.gov/efscale/27.html
Then the pieces of fence or whatever that was started falling out of the sky, so it was pretty clear what was going to happen to the trees. Wonder what Part 2 was for those guys. Hope everyone was safe. I assume they had a basement or somewhere in mind to go to.
 

MClarkson

EF5
Sep 2, 2004
891
27
11
Blacksburg, VA
From the youtube info they say that that apartment complex did have some fatalities. Although it also sounds like that group in the video was not badly hurt. It is a bit vague though, I don't know what sort of shelter they might have had.

the address for that apartment building:

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=800+27th+St.+Tuscaloosa,+Alabama+35401&aq=&sll=35.782171,-98.173828&sspn=18.286406,40.517578&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=800+27th+St,+Tuscaloosa,+Alabama+35401&ll=33.187631,-87.546916&spn=0.01846,0.039568&t=h&z=15

and then a damage pic from NWS...

http://ngs.woc.noaa.gov/storms/apr11_tornado/download/tuscaloosa_rotated_cropped.jpg


Shows that the apartment complex was in the middle of the damage path.
 
Sure, there's a percentage of society that does not take warnings seriously. But, in comparison to other areas, what makes you think that the "heart of Mississippi" has any higher percentage of apathy than other areas of the country? Can you reference studies? I understand that your observations when growing up were that many didn't take it seriously, but how might your perspective have changed as you moved to different areas of the country in later years? Were your observations enough for solid conclusions? Just tossing these questions out there.
My statement was based on just personal observation and having spoken to individuals who grew up in more tornado prone areas as KS,OK,NE,TX..etc. So my comparison was with where I grew up and the Great Plains. I should have stated that more clearly. Now does my home state have a higher percentage of apathetic individuals when it comes to Tornado warnings in areas outside the Plains, probably not. The point I was trying to make is that there are multiple factors for the high death toll and feel one of those that needs to be looked at closer is the point I was trying to make. No you haven't overlooked any studies or I'm not aware of any. I'm like you Randy I wouldn't envy the ones who would take on a study like that. I would however love to see the results.
 
Feb 22, 2010
28
0
0
Northern Illinois
Here's another very close call. I imagine the person who shot this video wouldn't have fared so well if the tornado veered a little bit at the last second.

http://youtu.be/LNeCv3NIQcc
You know, there are tons of videos of people filming from their front porches as the tornado approaches, only to duck for cover at the last second and to be spared by it changing course or just barely missing their location. I wonder how many people died with video cameras in hand.
 
Feb 19, 2004
1,375
30
11
42
Erie IL
www.svtperformance.com
You know, there are tons of videos of people filming from their front porches as the tornado approaches, only to duck for cover at the last second and to be spared by it changing course or just barely missing their location. I wonder how many people died with video cameras in hand.
Yeah pretty scary stuff. After watching some of these videos you can sort of get an understanding of what it must be like to see something like that baring down on your home. It must be a pretty mesmerizing experience seeing something like that coming right for where you live.
 
Apr 29, 2004
769
0
6
Norman, OK
...by it changing course or just barely missing their location.
An illusion that I see all too often when folks describe tornadoes headed almost directly toward them, as it is all about perspective. The damage path of the Tuscaloosa and other tornado clearly show that for the most part, these tornadoes didn't "change course".
 
Jun 28, 2009
112
1
5
Galesburg, MI
You know, there are tons of videos of people filming from their front porches as the tornado approaches, only to duck for cover at the last second and to be spared by it changing course or just barely missing their location. I wonder how many people died with video cameras in hand.
You know, I was just thinking the same thing a few days ago. It wouldn't surprise me if in the coming weeks or months as the cleanup continues that someone will find a camera or camcorder with an intact memory card that recorded someone's last moments. If you recall, a camcorder on board Columbia was recording during it's final re-entry and was later found on the ground after the shuttle broke up. Despite a brutal fall back to earth, the media (I think it was magnetic tape) still retained some recordings of the re-entry, which stopped before the shuttle broke up. With more camcorders using flash media (with is more durable than tape), I find it highly likely that there's a few cameras and camcorders mixed in with the rubble with intact images or video. Not that I'm looking forward to seeing someone's horrific last moments, but I find it likely that some images exist.
 
Feb 22, 2010
28
0
0
Northern Illinois
You know, I was just thinking the same thing a few days ago. It wouldn't surprise me if in the coming weeks or months as the cleanup continues that someone will find a camera or camcorder with an intact memory card that recorded someone's last moments. If you recall, a camcorder on board Columbia was recording during it's final re-entry and was later found on the ground after the shuttle broke up. Despite a brutal fall back to earth, the media (I think it was magnetic tape) still retained some recordings of the re-entry, which stopped before the shuttle broke up. With more camcorders using flash media (with is more durable than tape), I find it highly likely that there's a few cameras and camcorders mixed in with the rubble with intact images or video. Not that I'm looking forward to seeing someone's horrific last moments, but I find it likely that some images exist.
I saw an experiment on the durability of various types of data storage devices once, and things like flash drives and sim cards can be baked into batter, cleaned off with highly corrosive liquids, driven over by a truck, frozen, burnt, and still be able to get all the data off of them. Especially if the memory cards are protected by the surrounding camera, I wouldn't doubt there are many that have survived.
 
Feb 19, 2004
1,375
30
11
42
Erie IL
www.svtperformance.com
Charleston Square Apartments -

Before:



After:



After with path:



You can see it went over the lower half of that complex.
I can't figure out where they shot that video. Nothing in the aerial imagery lines up with what shows up in the video. Makes me think either they didn't name the correct location in the vid clip, or the aerial photos are really old, which I doubt. In the video we can see a small building with a bunch of trees immediately behind it to the southwest. The aerial imagery shows no such building with trees immediately southwest of it like what shows up in the video. The video would have had to be shot on the west side of the apartment complex by the orientation of the vehicles and the approach angle of the tornado.
 

Alan Smithton

I saw an experiment on the durability of various types of data storage devices once, and things like flash drives and sim cards can be baked into batter, cleaned off with highly corrosive liquids, driven over by a truck, frozen, burnt, and still be able to get all the data off of them. Especially if the memory cards are protected by the surrounding camera, I wouldn't doubt there are many that have survived.
For what it's worth, a news photographer was killed in the collapse of the second World Trade Center tower on 9/11. His gear was basically crushed and exposed to fire, smoke, ash, water, etc. for several weeks before it was recovered. His film cameras were useless, of course, but the memory card in his digital camera survived and yielded its haul of images intact.

http://digitaljournalist.org/issue0111/biggart_intro.htm