NWS Chicago Tornado Warning Service

NWS Chicago Tornado Warning Service
The primary mission of the National Weather Service (NWS) is to save lives and protect property by warning people of impending hazardous weather. For the period January through August, 2008, the NWS Forecast Office at Chicago/Romeoville, which serves 23 counties in northern Illinois and northwest Indiana, provided advanced warning for 88% of the tornadoes that occurred in the area. The state of the science of meteorology today still makes warning for every tornado an extremely challenging responsibility, but the Chicago office’s warning accuracy exceeded the national average by 16%. The average lead time from tornado warning issuance to the initial report of tornado occurrence was 17 minutes, which exceeded national standards by 4 minutes.
Six of the seventeen tornadoes that struck the area this year were “significant” tornadoes, rated EF2 or greater on the Enhanced Fujita Scale. This ratio is fairly typical for the central United States. There were no fatalities and only eleven injuries. 
More accurate tornado warnings with greater lead time for the people of north central and northeast Illinois and northwest Indiana can be attributed to the help of dedicated and knowledgeable Skywarn storm spotters, excellent communications and cooperation with state, county and local emergency management agencies, superb efforts by the local broadcast media to get the word out, and a dedicated and well trained staff at the National Weather Service.
As a reminder, everyone must take personal responsibility for their own safety and the safety of family members and those in their care by being vigilant and monitoring weather conditions. Have a severe weather plan for home, work, and school. Even with today’s technology and high speed communications, sometimes tornadoes still strike with little or no warning.  And even the most perfect weather warning isn’t worth anything if you don’t have a method to receive the warning or know what to do when it is issued.  

For information on tornado preparedness and planning, click here. For school tornado preparedness planning, click here.  


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