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The greatest natural disaster that almost was

Earlier tornado warnings could lead to dangerous decisions

By
1:36pm, April 17, 2015
tornado

TITANIC TWISTER  The public’s response to the widest tornado ever recorded (pictured) suggests that earlier tornado warnings could lead people to make unsafe decisions.

For more on the future of forecasting, see SN's feature "Weather forecasting is getting a high-speed makeover."

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More advanced warnings of incoming weather systems sound like a great idea, but researchers are learning that people don’t always do what’s expected.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Severe Storms Laboratory is developing a system, called Warn-on-Forecast, that could one day provide tornado warnings an hour or more before a twister hits, more than quadrupling the current 14 minutes of warning time (SN: 5/2/15, p. 20). Forecasters, however, worry about how people will spend that extra time, says Kim Klockow, a meteorologist and behavioral scientist at University Corporation for Atmospheric Research who is

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