By: Megan Palera
Far too often people ignore the warnings or try to look for the tornado rather than seeking shelter. But a new warning system is hoping to end that.
It was nearly 9 years ago when a tornado tore through the small town of Hallam. One person was killed and many others are lucky to be alive, like Kim Olson's father.
"The tornado took the entire house away. The only thing left on the slab was a toilet and that's what he happened to hang on to," Olson said.
It was a beautiful, warm day when the twister touched down. Olson doesn't know if her father would have turned on the TV that day for fear of severe weather. But she says the new warnings will keep them safe in the future.
The National Weather Service is trying to play on the power of words. They want to ring the alarm bell before it's too late. So when a twister is possible based on radar data, you'll know exactly what's coming for you.
"It'll say a hazard that there's a damaging tornado. It might say something like major house and building damage likely. And these are kind of bulleted like statements that will be there," Warning Coordinator Meteorologist Brian Smith said.
The more severe the weather, the more intense the warning. It'll range from high threat level to catastrophic, like the EF-5 tornado that struck Joplin, Missouri nearly two years ago. That disaster was the inspiration behind the "Impact-Based Warnings."
"You wouldn't think people would ignore a tornado, but you know it's just common life. Most of them are nothing and when they are something though, it does take everybody by surprise," Olson said.
The new warnings were tested last year in Kansas and Missouri. Nebraska is now of 12 states this year that will be using the new system that begins April 1st.