Weather Whys: Why were tornado forecasts banned in the United States?

Weather Whys

Did you know that tornado warnings were once banned in the Unites States?

Prior to 1938, you didn’t hear the word “tornado” in a forecast. A Tornado Warning can save a life so it’s hard to believe it was considered wrong! It was decided that the use of the word “tornado” in a forecast would scare the public and cause mass chaos. 


But in 1938, and after Mother Nature claimed the lives of many with no warning, it was then allowed back in the forecast. But the technology wasn’t there to forecast tornadoes accurately. 


It wasn’t until March 25, 1948 that the first Tornado Warning was issued at Tinker Air Base in Oklahoma City. This event has been widely studied and has paved the way for tornado forecasting ever since. The way we forecast a tornado has changed but there’s one thing that hasn’t changed… and that’s the tornado siren. 


We all know that iconic and ominous sound.  Tornado sirens were installed in 1950 by President Truman as a part of the Civil Defense Act. They were meant to warn American’s of a nuclear attack. In 1970, their secondary job was added, which was to warn the public that a tornado is near. 

They’re meant to be heard outside. Because it’s North Dakota’s Severe Weather Awareness week, today, May 2nd, is the statewide tornado drill. Some towns have decided not to participate and continue with their regularly scheduled tests.


 But if you’re outside and you hear a siren today, think of where you would go in the event of a tornado emegency… and not only find that safe place but also think about how far we have come in technology and as a country that you CAN be warned about tornadoes. 

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