Severe Weather Warnings to be More Precise
A computer-generated tornado, as shown in the Discovery Channel's "Perfect Disaster" TV series.
Credit: Discovery Channel

Anyone who lives in tornado country would agree a twister knows no politics. Like any storm, a tornado follows its own course rather than county lines or any other geopolitical boundaries.

So beginning Oct. 1, the National Weather Service will recognize this whim of Nature and begin issuing severe-weather warnings that are more geographically specific rather than being county-wide as has been the case.

"Weather doesn't follow geopolitical boundaries," said retired Air Force Brig. Gen. David L. Johnson, director of NOAA's National Weather Service.

The change applies to tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, flash floods and marine hazards.

The new approach will "provide the public with more specific information about the location of severe weather and the direction it is expected to move," Johnson said. "Seconds count during tornadoes and flash floods. We want to provide the public with the most accurate description of what's happening in their neighborhood. We also want to avoid warning non-threatened portions of the county."

Warnings will specify areas within a county and refer to commonly known landmarks such as highways or rivers, according to a NOAA statement issued today.

"This is a fundamental change in our warning procedures and a major enhancement in our service capability," Johnson said.