Mt. Vernon Register-News

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April 2, 2013

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PADUCAH, Ky. — An experimental National Weather Service enhancement will be used during this thunderstorm system in an effort to better communicate sever weather threats within NWS warnings.

This is an expansion of a smaller NWS experiment that begin in Kansas and Missouri in 2012.

While the basic function of severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings will remain the same, addition enhanced information will be provided within the warning to provide additional expected “impact” information under the Impact Based Warning (IBW) system, according to Pat Spoden of the National Weather Service in Paducah, Ky.

“We’re not changing the warning system itself. The templates have been changed within our computer system,” explained Spoden. “We’re trying to change the wording to try to get people to react.”

For example, Spoden said, when there is a tornado or severe thunderstorm warning, “Our main point of emphasis is what it could do. If there is a large tornado, we can adjust the wording to say houses could be destroyed, to tell people what we actually know.” He added, “If we have confirmation of a large tornado then we can put that information more easily into communication that people can understand.”

The goals, according to the NWS web site, are to provide more information through the warnings in order to facilitate improved public response and decision making, and to better meet societal needs in the most life-threatening weather events. This effort is in response to key findings from recent service assessments of devastating tornadoes in 2011, particularly the EF-5 tornado in Joplin, Mo.

Steve Lueker, Jefferson County’s EMA director, said, “This is going to a more site specific warning system, and this way people are going to be more apt to listen to it. This means they will be in the path of the storm.” He added, “It should be able to put people in the position to have more response time than they have in the past.”

The new IBW system went into effect Monday.

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