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  • Tim McGill

A Lesson From The Nashville Tornado Outbreak

Updated: Mar 13, 2020

Multiple and redundant ways of receiving weather alerts is crucial.

There are multiple factors that lead to the second most deadly tornado outbreak in Tennessee's history.

Meteorology professor Victor Gensini of Northern Illinois University did a study that shows tornado frequency is shifting east from the plains states towards the

Tennessee valley region.

His colleagues did a study that found that "the nighttime tornado death rate over the past century has not shared the same pace of decline as the rate for daytime tornadoes". Tornadoes that strike in the period form midnight to sunrise are 2.5 times as likely to kill compared to tornadoes that occur during the daytime hours. Tennessee has the highest percentage of nocturnal tornadoes in the country.

So with a higher frequency of tornadoes in the southeast and a greater proportion of those tornadoes occurring at night when they are the most dangerous, Tennessee finds themselves in the bulls-eye.

The outbreak didn't have to be so deadly though. Bruce Jones, an AMS-Certified Broadcast Meteorologist employed by Midland Radio Corporation recently stressed the need for multiple, redundant methods of receiving weather alerts.

"Every home should have a NOAA Weather Radio. For the price of a night at the movies, you’ll have a device that gives you instant, official, life-saving alerts direct from your local National Weather Service office, 24/7/365. Every home should have multiple, redundant methods of receiving warnings, but nothing beats NOAA Weather Radio, the official “Voice of the National Weather Service”. Get one, and sleep protected. No one in America should be alerted to an approaching tornado by the sound of a freight train."

Bruce Jones

Midland Radio

Sociologists are helping us understand why even when warnings are received people sometimes are too slow to react. This is often a factor that contributes to people being killed by tornadoes. Too often people are looking for additional information to confirm that a dangerous storm could soon impact them. The extra time it takes to look for that confirmation could mean the difference between life and death.

Take warnings seriously and take action immediately. Have a plan in place and be sure to have more than one way of receiving a weather alert.

Here are some helpful links for staying safe this severe weather season:


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