A report of this magnitude is rare. The government interviewed more than 100 survivors and analyzed a lot data. Officials with the National Weather Service believe the entire country can learn from Joplin.
"Over all, I'm pleased with the report, but the fact of the matter is you can only do so much. In all honesty, it's a lot of tweaking, tweaking that needs to be done," said Stammer.
by Maria Sudekum Fisher, The Associated Press
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The federal agency that oversees the National Weather Service says warning sirens and notifications went out well ahead of the devastating tornado in Joplin. It says, however, residents didn't respond quickly enough to the sirens warning of the impending twister.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Tuesday in a report about communications before and during the tornado that killed 162 people on May 22 that the National Weather Service was well-prepared and "performed in an exemplary manner." The report also said combined efforts from the weather service, emergency management and the public "saved many lives."
The report said "the vast majority of Joplin residents" didn't respond to the first siren because of an apparent widespread disregard for tornado sirens.
Edited news release from NOAA:
NOAA’s National Weather Service released its final assessment report on the May 22 tornado that struck Joplin, Mo. The report identifies best practices and makes recommendations to help save more lives during future violent tornadoes. Most importantly, the assessment emphasizes that people must be prepared to take immediate action when a warning is issued.
“The tornado that struck Joplin offers important lessons about disaster preparedness,” said National Weather Service Director, Jack Hayes, Ph.D. “Tragically, despite advance tornado outlooks, watches and warnings, 159 people died and more than 1,000 were injured. At NOAA we will do all we can – working with our partners throughout the weather enterprise and emergency management – to reduce the impact of similar disasters.”
Within days of the tragedy, Hayes sent an assessment team to Joplin to examine warning and forecast services provided to the community, warning communications, community preparedness and the public’s response to tornado warnings.
The team determined that a number of factors contributed to the high death toll. Through interviews with more than 100 Joplin residents, the team found that societal response to warnings is highly complex and involves a number of factors, such as risk perception, overall credibility of warnings and warning communications.
The report includes a number of key recommendations:
- Improve warning communications to convey a sense of urgency for extreme events. This will compel people to take immediate life-saving action;
- Collaborate with partners who communicate weather warnings to develop GPS-based warning communications, including the use of text messaging, smart phone apps, mobile communications technologies, in addition to upgrades to the Emergency Alert System and NOAA Weather Radio;
- Collaborate more throughout the weather enterprise to ensure that weather warning messages sent via television, radio, NOAA Weather Radio, local warning systems such as sirens – are consistent to reduce confusion and stress the seriousness of the threat; and
- Continue to increase community preparedness.