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NOAA survey allows residents to report tornado experiences

Piles of debris and cars lie around a home destroyed by a tornado in Moore, Oklahoma.
Brett Deering
Getty Images
Piles of debris and cars lie around a home destroyed by a tornado in Moore, Oklahoma.

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.

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Beth reports on education topics for StateImpact Oklahoma.
StateImpact Oklahoma reports on education, health, environment, and the intersection of government and everyday Oklahomans. It's a reporting project and collaboration of KGOU, KOSU, KWGS and KCCU, with broadcasts heard on NPR Member stations.
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