December 22, 2014

Weather study: Twisters are even more deadly in the dark

A recent study underscores the danger presented by nighttime tornadoes.

Scientists at Northern Illinois University found twisters that strike between midnight and dawn are two-and-a-half times more likely to result in deaths.

National Weather Service meteorologist Jeff Johnson says it’s not surprising nighttime tornadoes are more deadly as most people are sleeping and aren’t aware a tornado has touched down.

He advises Nebraskans to seek out a reliable warning system.

“Probably your best bet is a well programmed NOAA weather radio,” Johnson said. “You can have it programmed down to your county. That way, you don’t get over-warned. That’s probably the best way to get woken up in the middle of the night in the event of a tornado warning.”

Johnson encourages Nebraskans to take weather warnings seriously and find a safe place to go when they’re issued.

“Generally speaking, if it’s a severe thunderstorm warning, what I personally do is check the warning and see what the hazard is. If it’s high winds above 70 or 75 miles per hour, I may choose to go down to my tornado shelter. If it’s just some one inch hail, maybe not, maybe I’ll just stay inside the house,” Johnson said. “That’s the best thing to do – just know the hazard and take the correct action.”

The NIU study found that from 1950 to 2005, just 27% of U.S. tornadoes were nocturnal, yet 39% of all tornado fatalities occurred at night.

WEATHER RADIO link: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr/

NIU STUDY link: http://www.niu.edu/news/features/fall08/tornadoes/index.shtml