NOAA Recommends Warning System Changes

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JOPLIN - The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recommended a new and improved warning system Tuesday, as a result of a report assessing the response to the May 22 Joplin tornado. 

NOAA said some Joplin residents ignored siren warnings, even though they went out well ahead of the tornado touching down.

NOAA, the federal agency that oversees the National Weather Service, interviewed nearly 100 residents affected by the tornado.

Dick Wagenmaker, Meterologist-in-charge of the Detroit Weather Forecast Office, led the assessment team. He identified two issues with the current siren system: The devices are designed for the outdoors, and there is some ambiguity regarding the siren's use. 

Wagnermaker also recognized the perception among some of the interviewees that sirens go off "too often". He said some people did not take the tornado seriously until they either saw or heard it, either on local television stations or in person. 

Wagenmaker commended the response by local officials.

"There's no doubt in my mind people in the weather enterprise saved hundreds of lives," said Wagenmaker. 

On May 22, a massive EF-5 tornado struck Joplin, killing 162 people. About a week after, National Weather Service Director Jack Hayers, sent an assessment team to Joplin to survey damage and compile information regarding the response. 

The NOAA report can be viewed in it's entirety here.