Study: people becoming jaded to weather warnings - News, Weather & Sports

Study: people becoming jaded to weather warnings

By Scott Harvey - bio | email
Posted By Mike Dever - email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A new study finds when a report of severe weather is issued some people are turning a blind eye, but experts tell us every severe weather warning should be taken seriously every time.

The study conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration looked at data from last February's "Super Tuesday" outbreak. That was a storm system that produced 82 tornadoes in nine states, killing 57 people and injuring 350 others. But experts say it didn't have to.

John Gordon, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, is shocked that people don't take severe weather warnings seriously.

"It's very frustrating that people don't believe they can get hit," said Gordon. "I'm ticked."

The report listed three reasons why some folks are not paying close to the warnings. The first being they simply don't think it will happen to them.

"They figure it cannot happen here," said Gordon. "The reality is, if you look at a map of tornadoes across Kentucky and Southern Indiana, everyone of our counties have been hit."

The report also found people simply wait until they see a tornado touch the ground. "And that's when people become believers," said Gordon. "People say, 'Oh my gosh, I'm going to have a plan next time.' Well don't be dead. You can't have a plan if you are dead."

Gordon says, while seeing is believing, you are better off having a little faith in the experts, "We do not issue warnings to interrupt peoples' NASCAR races. We do not issue warnings to upset someone's soap opera."

The third reason listed in the report was some people just believe that meteorologists are crying wolf. Gordon understands why. "When Dopplers came out in the late 80s and early 90s we started seeing things in storms that we could never see before. So we have in the 90s probably have issued too many warnings."

But who wants to wait around to see if it is the wolf.

"I have seen some really bad, bad damage and some big tornadoes - big tornadoes," said Gordon. "Body parts and people do not take warnings seriously."

"So that's the question. Do you warn the people, 'Hey this could happen, but it's not always going to happen," asked WAVE 3 meteorologist John Belski. "Me, I like to err on the side of safety."

"One of these days a big tornado is going to hit a big city," Gordon said. "One day it will happen."

Experts say the best thing you can do is prepare and discuss a severe weather plan with your family.

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