KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The National Weather Service is hoping that if people hear a warning like “Mass devastation is likely,” they will be more likely to listen and take shelter when severe weather is about to strike.
Officials with the NWS say that too many people are desensitized to tornado sirens, and are trying out the new warnings in hopes of grabbing people’s attention faster and letting them know what they could be in for if a tornado touches down in their area.
The new warnings, called “impact-based warnings,” use stark language like “Mass devastation is likely, making the area unrecognizable to survivors,” or “This storm is not survivable” to grab the attention of people who have become desensitized when there’s word of a tornado.
The NWS cited Joplin as an example of that desensitization, as 161 people were killed, scores more injured and hundreds of homes and businesses destroyed when a tornado roared through town last May.
The new warnings will be tested in Kansas and Missouri through November 30th. Following that, a group of meteorologists will evaluate responses to determine if the system should be used across the nation.