Have a tornado tale? NOAA wants to hear from you

Tornado tale: Partial wall and chimney standing with cloudy skies and debris.
A tornado destroyed this home in Sawyerville, Alabama, on March 25, 2021. Have you experienced a twister and do you have a tornado tale to tell? If so, NOAA wants to hear from you. Image via NOAA.

Originally published as NOAA researchers seek to learn more about tornado experiences to improve safety on May 25, 2022, by NOAA. The author is Keli Pirtle.

Has a tornado hit your house or your community? Have you received a tornado alert? 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 anonymously report their tornado experiences. Researchers at the NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) developed this tool to better understand how people receive, interpret and respond to tornado information from NOAA.

About the survey

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

Project coordinator Justin Sharpe, a research scientist with the Cooperative Institute for Severe and High-Impact Weather Research and Operations (CIWRO) working at the NOAA NSSL, said:

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:

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.

Apple watch screen with emergency alert message.
Have you ever received an emergency alert for a tornado warning? How did you react? NOAA wants to hear from you. Image via Kelly Kizer Whitt.

Tell your tornado tale

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

Other social scientists, local emergency managers and NOAA’s National Weather Service forecasters can use the information from the Tornado Tales tool to inform research and community engagement activities.

To share your story, visit Tornado Tales.

Dusty tornado in a green field under dark skies.
A tornado outbreak struck eastern North Dakota on June 27, 2015. Image via NOAA/ NWS/ Amanda L. Hill.

Bottom line: NOAA wants to learn more about how people react in a tornado. They’re launching a survey called Tornado Tales and you can help provide data.


Read more: Storm chasing: A picturesque Texas tornado

Read more: Tornado Alley is shifting toward Dixie

May 27, 2022

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