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NOAA survey asks residents to report tornado experiences

Scenes from Seminole, Okla. after a tornado on May 4, 2022.
Robby Korth / StateImpact Oklahoma
Modular classrooms at the Academy of Seminole were tossed and damaged by a tornado in May 2022.

Oklahoma residents are no strangers to tornadoes, especially this time of year.

As storm season continues, researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Severe Storms Laboratory (NOAA NSSL) are spreading the word about a new online survey that allows people to anonymously report their experiences with tornadoes. The survey, called Tornado Tales, will be used to understand how communities receive, interpret and respond to information about tornadoes.

In the survey, users are asked about their responses to tornado warnings and watches issued by NOAA — responses like safety preparations and sheltering. The organization hopes to use the information to identify areas where warning messages aren’t getting people to choose safer and effective tornado strategies.

Project coordinator Justin Sharpe, a research scientist with the Cooperative Institute for Severe and High-Impact Weather Research and Operations at the University of Oklahoma and the NOAA NSSL, said in a press release analyzing peoples’ responses will help improve weather communications.

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

Researchers aim to make Tornado Tales a citizen science tool that can help meteorologists understand what people really do when a tornado may be on the way.

To take the survey, visit this link.

Beth Wallis is StateImpact Oklahoma's education reporter.
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