OUR OPINION: Be thankful for safety but know procedures

Last week’s deadly tornado that leveled vast swatches of Moore, Okla., was the third such storm to strike the city of 60,000 in 15 years.

Science has not precisely determined what about Moore’s location makes it prone to be swept by the F5 twisters – 200 mph or more on the ground.

More certainly is known about tornadoes and the paths they take and where they are than when record-keeping began in 1950.

The federal Storm Prediction Center, one of those scientific think tanks that remains largely invisible except in weather crises, has produced this valuable, possibly life-saving information about tornadoes, which we quote verbatim:

• What should I do in case of a tornado? That depends on where you are. This list of tornado safety tips covers most situations.

• What is a tornado watch?

A tornado watch defines an area shaped like a parallelogram, where tornadoes and other kinds of severe weather are possible in the next several hours. Make your friends and family aware of the potential for tornadoes in the area. The Storm Prediction Center issues tornado and severe thunderstorm watches.

• What is a tornado warning?

A tornado warning means that a tornado has been spotted, or that Doppler radar indicates a thunderstorm circulation which can spawn a tornado. When a tornado warning is issued for your town or county, take immediate safety precautions; local NWS offices issue tornado warnings.

• I’ve seen a video of people running under a bridge to ride out a tornado. Is that safe?

Absolutely not! Stopping under a bridge to take shelter from a tornado is a very dangerous idea, for several reasons.

• What about community tornado shelters?

Community tornado shelters are excellent ideas for apartment complexes, schools, mobile home parks, factories, office complexes and other facilities where large groups of people live, work or study.

• I am a school administrator, and I don’t know where to start with developing a safety plan. Can you help?

Gladly. Every school is different, so a safety plan which works fine for one may not be well-suited for another. There is a website with preparedness tips for school administrators which can provide helpful tips in devising a safety plan. These strategies can be adapted for nursing homes, dorms, barracks and similar structures as well.

The Storm Prediction Center is among the agencies in which good weather science makes possible the counting of blessings after tornadoes much more possible. The website is rapidrefresh.noaa.gov.

For all these scientific advances people in the tornado belt should give sincere thanks.

NEMS Daily Journal