I spent the better part of the day during Sunday's outbreak in the Midwest sitting in my chair watching information roll in almost in real time. Between Twitter, Facebook, my radar and the Weather Channel I was well informed with everything going on, watching storms move at super speed developing hooks, and wincing as the storms approached communities in Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky.
Among everything that happened that day I was amazed at the amount of information coming in and how far we've come in storm coverage and chasing in just a few years. Pictures were rolling in almost instantly as snapshots uploaded to social media took off like wildfire, meanwhile video was rolling in quickly afterwards from bystanders who had the unfortunate luck of being in the storms way. Shortly afterwards, damage photos from the storms blistering path came in giving us an initial idea that these storms meant business and we should all be paying attention.
As the day wore on the reports kept coming in. Washington, IL was hammered by a tornado initially rated and EF-4. Soldier Field in Chicago was evacuated and the game suspended for almost two hours. Storms near Paducah, KY were producing tornadoes. Such a wide region affected it took effort just to keep up with all of it.
But, the most important defense we had was the information.
SPC had this event pegged a few days out. Chasers notified their legions of followers on social media that this was going to be serious. Watches were issued just enough beforehand, and once the storms started firing and moving at warp speed tornado warnings were soon to follow. For folks downstream in Eastern Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky there was plenty of coverage to allow for preparations and plans to be made. Sadly, even with all of the information out there, at least seven people died and dozens of others were injured. These storms were brutal and so fast moving once they came upon an area there was little time to react.
There has been a ton of progress made the last few years in improving warning times. Social media has enabled not only the government but scores of other sources help get the word out, helping the public to prepare for upcoming weather events. There is still room for improvement, but as bad as things may get all of the information out there helps keep things from being a lot worse.
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