Before I moved to St. Paul a couple years ago, I lived in a large county north of the Twin Cities. When severe stormy weather arose in one part of the county, the sirens would sound, even if the part of the county I lived in was calm and sunny.
That’s all going to change this fall.
The National Weather Service has announced that starting on Oct. 1, it will no longer be issuing severe weather warnings on a county-wide basis. Instead, it will be delineating storm warning areas by geographic landmarks, such as highways and rivers. Storms situations covered by the new warning system include tornadoes, thunderstorms, flash floods and marine hazards.
Watches will still cover entire counties, but those aren’t the conditions when the weather service sounds emergency alarms to take cover.
Even worse than my former personal situation north of the Twin Cities, under the old county-based storm warning system in some parts of the U.S., people could be alerted to a storm and still be more than 100 miles away from the action.
Weather Service Director David Johnson hopes that the new system won’t make people get complacent.
"I do not want to teach America to ignore warnings," Johnson said, so under the new program, "if you get the warning, there is a direct correlation to you being at risk."
Do you think you’ll be able to adjust to the new system? Remember, it doesn’t start until the fall, so any storms we have yet this summer will be reported under the old county-alerting system.