Prime time tornado season is just around the corner here in Iowa. During severe weather awareness week, emergency management has some strong words for Iowans who they say aren't taking weather warnings seriously.
“One if the biggest problems we deal with is complacency. They think it won`t happen here, or if it happens here it won`t happen to me or if it happens to me it won`t be that bad,” says John Davis with Polk County Emergency Management.
In the past 16 years, there have been 960 tornados in Iowa. Over 400 people were injured, and 20 died. The National Weather Service and Polk County Management say they do the best they can to warn people in the path of danger.
“We take them very seriously. A lot of thought and consideration goes into it so that we`re not over warning people," says Davis.
However, storm chaser Matt Winter thinks there are too many warnings targeted to too many people. Winter talks like a meteorologist, but he's not. He's just an enthusiastic storm chaser with a goal to reach a specific group of people on the largest web of communication.
“In my opinion I think social media like Facebook and Twitter are fantastic for getting the word out. If they`re not around a radio or television it’s more than likely they get the heads up and take cover,” says Winter.
If there's a storm, Winter knows about it and posts it to Facebook. Winter posts real time warnings with details about where the storm is headed and who is in danger. Winter has hundreds of followers, but Polk County Emergency Management has yet to utilize the tool during severe weather. However, they recognize how valuable it can be, and hope to start using it in the near future. While Winter and Polk County have different ways of operating, they share a common goal.
“If we can educate people enough to take the warnings seriously then perhaps more lives can be spared,” says Winter.
The National Weather Service is refining its alert system to smaller areas, where people are most affected are now warned, rather than the entire county.