Are tornado warnings failing to warn?

Published 9:25 am Wednesday, May 16, 2012

By Dan Gunderson, Minnesota Public Radio News

WADENA — National Weather Service experts use cutting-edge technology to detect tornadoes quickly and keep you safe. But they can’t get in your head — and that’s the problem.

The basic tornado danger system — warnings are broadcast, sirens sound and people take shelter — stumbles over some frustrating psychology: Most people don’t run for shelter at the first sign of danger but search, instead, for information to confirm it.

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Experts say the weather service has often ignored behavioral research on delivering a “take cover” message that sinks in quickly. Officials say they’re working to make warnings more timely and effective. Human nature, though, is hard to change.


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