On April 8, 1998, an F5 tornado ripped a deadly path of destruction through Birmingham and many other communities in western Jefferson County. On that Wednesday night, 34 lives were lost and unbelievable devastation resulted. Back then, the National Weather Service used a county based warning system, meaning that the entire county was warned no matter what part of the county the storm was affecting. In 2007, the National Weather Service went to the much easier to use and more affective polygon warning system. The polygon warning, only warns the area that will be affected by the storm. However, many county agencies continue to sound tornado sirens for the entire county. This is confusing and gives the impression of over warning, thus how people perceive the warning process.
The image featured in this post is by Dr. Tim Coleman. He has done a comparison to show how the warning process has changed. In 1998, the 4 counties highlighted in yellow were warned for this dangerous storm. The warning went out to the entire population of those counties, which at the time was approximately 916,000. Only Tuscaloosa and Jefferson Counties had any affects from the tornado. Enter the polygon, which depicts how the storm would have been warned for if the polygon warning process would have been used at the time. Only the people in the warning, depicted by the red polygon, would have been warned. A much smaller percentage of the population, but it was the percentage that was affected.
MyWARN, the premiere severe weather notification app, uses this exact idea, but with a bit of an improvment. MyWARN uses the polygon warning system and GPS technology to pinpoint the threat to your exact location. Only warning you if you are within the polygon. Even more impressive, if you are traveling around and enter or exit a warned area, MyWARN notifies you immediately. This app truly does follow you and provides you with the latest information related to the warning. Keeping you safe and hopefully saving as many lives as possible in the process.
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Category: MyWarn News