July 23, 2014

Ignore a weather warning and you might be very sorry — if you live!

National Weather Service photo

One expert says Nebraskans tend to heed some weather warnings, like for tornadoes, but they’ll routinely ignore other advisories that may be equally as life-threatening.

Meterologist Todd Heitkamp, at the National Weather Service office in Sioux Falls, says when a weather warning is broadcast, people need to take immediate action.

“When we issue a warning, we want people to take action based upon that warning, we don’t want people to go outside looking for it,” Heitkamp says. “However, if you do go outside, which we know most people will generally do, we need them to make sure that you realize you may not be able to see that tornado right away.”

“But if your gut is telling you that you are in danger and there is common sense involved here, and if you feel that sense of urgency, listen to that instinct and get to a place that’s safe as soon as possible.”

Heitkamp says people will usually seek shelter when a Tornado Warning has been issued, but they often choose to disregard when a Severe Thunderstorm Warning is put out that may contain strong straight-line winds and cover a larger area.

“They don’t feel the threat is very severe when it comes to a Severe Thunderstorm Warning versus a Tornado Warning,” he says. “People need to realize, I don’t care if the winds are rotating or going straight, if it’s moving at a 100 to 150 miles an hour, it is still severe and you need to take action based on that wind speed.”

Heitkamp says people need to realize they are not in control when severe weather strikes, but what they are in control of is how quickly they react to the severity of the storm and when to seek shelter.