Call-to-Action Statements in Tornado Warnings: Do They Reflect Recent Developments in Tornado- Safety Research?

March 2007 (VOL. 25, NO. 1)

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Call-to-action statements in tornado warnings are content analyzed to determine to what extent their wordings has been influenced by recent research calling into question official safety guidelines and traditional advice regarding vehicles and mobile homes. While the statements do not directly contradict official guidelines and advice, there is significant variation among NWS offices regarding what advice is given and what guidelines are emphasized in call-to-action statements in tornado warnings. Some of this variation is regional, and interviews with NWS meteorologists reveal a frequent opinion that what is best to do if in a vehicle during a tornado warning may vary by region, time of day, and terrain. The interviews also reveal widespread awareness among NWS meteorologists of debates over tornado safety in vehicles and mobile homes, and strong support for local office autonomy in decisions about the wording of call-to-action statements.