Media Roundup: Early Warnings Saved Lives on November 17

Date Posted: November 21, 2013

Midwest residents were reminded that severe weather knows no season as a deadly outbreak of tornadoes struck on November 17, 2013.

While every fatality is a tragedy, the death toll was remarkably low. Accurate and early warnings communicated through broadcast media, Wireless Emergency Alerts, social media and other methods helped thousands find safety before storms hit.

Below is a roundup of news stories demonstrating the value of accurate, timely weather warnings delivered using traditional and new media.


Accurate forecasts, early warnings saved many from killer tornadoes in Midwest (CBS News)
“One reason so many lives were saved:  Forecasters were able to accurately predict the path of the storms.  Television and radio warnings, text-message alerts and storm sirens warned people in time to take cover.”

Better forecasts, more warnings and church services spared lives in rare late-season tornadoes (AP, via Washington Post)
“When a cluster of violent thunderstorms began marching across the Midwest, forecasters were able to draw a bright line on a map showing where the worst of the weather would go.  Their uncannily accurate predictions — combined with television and radio warnings, text-message alerts and storm sirens — almost certainly saved lives as rare late-season tornadoes dropped out of a dark autumn sky.  Although the storms howled through 12 states and flattened entire neighborhoods within a matter of minutes, the number of dead stood at just eight.”

[Rep.] Aaron Schock on Illinois tornadoes: Pavement ‘only thing left’ (Politico)
“’My phone was alerting, giving me the flood or the tornado warning system on my phone, which I was surprised I was getting it,’ Schock said.  ‘The warning systems worked, and I think that’s why, despite the disaster you see, that there was minimal loss of life.’”

Early Warnings Saved Lives In Weekend Storms (NPR)
“The death toll from Sunday's tornado outbreak across the Midwest stands at eight. Many of those who witnessed the devastation say they're shocked that number isn't higher.  Early warnings delivered by text message may have helped limit the casualties.”

Tornado Survivors: Social media saved us (CNN)
Brian Todd looks at how social media is saving lives during disasters and helping victims recover once the storm passes.

The invisible successes of meteorology (Washington Post Op-Ed)
“…on Nov. 17, accomplished scientists and dedicated volunteers saved the lives of more than 250 people. Yet there will be no parades, no Super Bowl tickets.”

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