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Tornado anniversary

May 22, 2012

  Today is the one-year anniversary of the tornado that moved through portions of north Minneapolis. A total of eleven tornadoes hit eastern Minnesota, western Wisconsin, and northeastern Iowa that Sunday afternoon. I was on duty, and was part of the continuous live TV coverage and newscasts that followed. The tornado that hit north Minneapolis caused one fatality, demolished some houses and uprooted many trees:

  

  (Photos courtesy of the Twin Cities NWS storm survey team. Left-click on photo for a larger image)

  A nice summary of the tornadoes can be found at the Twin Cities NWS site: http://www.crh.noaa.gov/news/display_cmsstory.php?wfo=mpx&storyid=68714&source=0

  On that same day, a gigantic EF-5 tornado leveled a major portion of Joplin, MO. The death toll in Joplin was 158, making that the single deadliest U.S.tornado since 1947.

  Covering the local tornadoes last year, I was reminded of several things. First, too many people seem to rely on sirens for weather warnings. Sirens were never meant to warn people who are indoors. If you hear a siren, take cover and check out the warning details, but don’t rely on sirens alone for warnings. The power may be out (not all sirens have battery power) or someone may have failed to activate the siren. Weather radio, some TV and radio stations, the internet and phone apps are good sources of weather warning information. I remember one person last May saying “the siren stopped, so I went outside to look around”. Not a good idea. Warnings typically last 20 to 40 minutes, but sirens stop after a few minutes…sounding the sirens for 20+ minutes could wear them out or drain their batteries.

   Weather warnings have improved a lot in the past decade, but we still have to be weather aware and weather savvy. An inexpensive weather radio could save your life.

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