Monday saw tragedy in the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore and adjacent communities when a long-lived and violent tornado brought widespread destruction and sadly many fatalities and injuries. This comes after a tornado outbreak that occurred near Dallas just back on May 15th.
The tornado damage in and around Moore will be assessed today by the NWS Office in Norman, OK and further information can be found throughout this week on their web page.
The devastation in Oklahoma can make us all stop and think what we would do if a violent tornado such as Monday's was bearing down on our community, and what should we do well in advance of such deadly weather to prepare and have a plan of action. Just two years ago, the 2011 tornado season also reminded us of the significant impacts tornadoes can have, especially in densely populated areas such as Joplin and Tuscaloosa. Wednesday actually will mark two years since the Joplin EF-5 tornado that killed over 150 people in the southwest Missouri community.
Preparedness is key for such life-threatening severe weather, as often during such events there is little time to react to save your and your family's lives. The tornado of Monday and the Joplin tornado of two years ago had been preceded by watches and warnings from the NWS in advance, yet still were incredibly deadly. This is at least in part due to an increased vulnerability to extreme severe weather. Scientists from the NWS have worked with social scientists in the aftermath of events like Joplin to survey those impacted and better understand public perception and response. From this has come the Impact Based Warning experiment from the NWS which is ongoing across the entire Midwest this year, including at our office.
It is not a question of if but when Chicago, Rockford, and nearby areas will see a violent tornado. Much of northern Illinois and northwest Indiana has not seen such a tornado in many years, and especially an outbreak of significant tornadoes. But no one should be complacent because of that, as climatology indicates it certainly can happen. Tornadoes such as the 1963 one in Kankakee County, the 1967 outbreak across Belvidere, Lake Zurich, and Oak Lawn , and the 1990 Plainfield EF-5 tornado all would impact substantially more people and infrastructure if they were to occur today
This is a Public Service Announcement prepared several months ago by a team of local media, emergency management, and our NWS office. Here is a Spanish version. When watching this, think how you would ensure you were informed of severe weather in advance, what you would do if a warning was issued (including at home, work, school, car, outside), and how you and your family should prepare.
The NWS Chicago's thoughts remain with the communities impacted by Monday's tornadoes.