Severe Weather Awareness Week: tornadoes
Posted By: Alden German
They're one of nature's most dangerous, destructive, and awe-inspiring phenomenon.
Hundreds of these destructive storms touch down every year, wreaking havoc in their path. The national weather service wants to remind the public of the importance of having a plan. First, where should you go?
"The best rule is to go to the lowest floor possible and to the innermost room possible. You want to avoid any windows if you can," said Brian Barjenbruch, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service’s Omaha office.
It's not a bad idea to have a tornado kit ready, either.
"In my own tornado kit at home I've got my children's bike helmets,” said Barjenbruch. “So when there's a tornado day coming, again it's important to have that plan and make sure your kid is put together and so on those days the kids don't ride their bikes but they're ready to put on that helmet if we have to seek shelter."
In 2017 Nebraska had 33 tornadoes, which is below the average of 42 per year since 1950. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only one injury.
The Cornhusker State is no stranger to the mess tornadoes can create. In 2004 one of the largest twisters ever recorded ripped through Hallam, causing over *160 million dollars* in damage. One person was killed and nearly 40 others injured. In 2016 two tornadoes touched down in south Lincoln causing extensive damage as well.
Media is often alerted first by the weather service when they're considering putting out any type of weather warning. It's a critical decision to make.
"Sometimes the decision to not issue is just as important as it would be if we did issue a warning because we don't want to give a false sense of security or false alarms,” said Barjenbruch.
Tornado forecasting requires the utmost attention to detail.
"The National Weather Service is very accurate,” said Barjenbruch. “There are times when the weak tornadoes, they aren't seen by spotters and they aren't seen by the radar and so some of those very small ones are difficult."
While a tornado warning might not always mean an actual tornado, significant damage from wind and rain can still happen; so when the meteorologist tells you to take shelter, it's better to be safe than sorry.