NOAA researchers hope to learn more about tornado experiences to improve safety


Has a tornado hit your home or occurred in your community? Have you received a tornado alert? National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists want to hear your story. 

The new Tornado Tales citizen science tool is an online survey that provides a way for people to report their tornado experiences anonymously. Developed by researchers at the NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL), the tool will be used to better understand how people receive, interpret and respond to tornado information from NOAA. 

The survey asks basic questions to collect information about an individual’s responses to tornado warnings and watches, including how they prepared for and monitored the weather and what safe space thy used to shelter when a warning was issued by NOAA’s National Weather Service (NWS). This information can help NOAA identify areas where warning messages may not be resulting in the safest and most effective actions. This knowledge will help NOAA hone safety messages. 

You can read what project coordinator Justin Sharpe had to say about the citizen science tool below: 

“While NOAA collects a lot of physical science data about storms from satellites and radars, the weather community has much less information about what people actually do when tornadoes strike. We created this citizen science tool so that people can come to us and share their stories. This information will help us improve weather communication used to keep people safe.” 

Sharpe added the following: 

“Understanding people’s experiences gives scientists a much better picture of where research is needed, whether it’s research to improve safety measures or to assess the need for local changes, such as developing reasonable shelter options.” 

Sharpe is a research scientist with Cooprative Institute for Severe and High-Impact Weather Research and Operations (CIWRO) working at the NOAA NSSL.  

Like the sensors meteorologists use to study the atmosphere, Tornado Tales is designed to gather information, in this case about what people affected by weather are really doing, and generate a more robust set of observations than NOAA social scientists currently have available. 

The information gathered by the Tornado Tales can be used by other social scientists, local emergency managers, and NOAA’s NWS forecasters to inform research and community engagement activities.

You can share your tornado tale here

Stay tuned to Discover Tornadoes for more tornado news, information, and more.

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