NDPTC delivers tornado awareness training in Oklahoma

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Dale Uno, (808) 956-0605
Project Development/Business Manager, Social Sciences, NDPTC
Posted: Dec 23, 2013

NDPTC's Tornado Awareness course participants learn about the latest advances in tornado science.
NDPTC's Tornado Awareness course participants learn about the latest advances in tornado science.

November is not typically considered “tornado season,” so the recent 62 tornadoes that tore through the Midwest, killing eight people and wreaking a path of destruction, reveal the critical need for preparedness and resiliency. Regardless of whether or not climate change contributed to the warm-season severe weather this late in the year and so far north, the National Disaster Preparedness Training Center (NDPTC) at UH Mānoa has been catapulted to the forefront of the effort to help communities be better prepared to respond to, recover from, and mitigate the devastating effects of such events.

“As a national center, supported by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), NDPTC must be responsive to the needs of communities across the country that face severe, damaging hazards from tornadoes and other natural hazards by translating the latest scientific information to improve warning, evacuation, sheltering and response capabilities of all communities throughout the nation,” said Dr. Karl Kim, Executive Director of NDPTC. “The center is committed to building resilience through training, education, and dissemination of research.”

Due to its experience with numerous tornadoes every year and expertise in tornado science, Oklahoma was chosen as the location for the first deliveries of NDPTC’s Tornado Awareness course that is currently under development. Uncannily, the first two pilot trainings were in early November in McAlester and in Norman. Participants came from a wide variety of professions, and many Norman participants had first-hand experience responding to and recovering from the EF-5 tornado that hit Moore, Oklahoma, on May 20, 2013.

The 4-hour Tornado Awareness course provides emergency managers, first responders and community members across all sectors with a basic understanding of the latest knowledge in tornado science, forecasting, warning and preparedness, allowing them to make better-informed decisions when severe weather threatens.

The training pilots were successful, and the feedback received will be used to make revisions in preparation for upcoming target audience pilots, which will likely take place in the Northeast and Southeast. National Weather Service members who attended the recent deliveries said that the course would complement their existing storm spotter training courses and would reach an even broader audience.

Said Gary Davis, Training and Exercise Coordinator for the Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security, about the recent deliveries: “The NDPTC Tornado Awareness course is a well-developed educational curriculum that successfully provides the basic understanding of tornado science, tornado warning and tornado safety from the citizens to the responders. This course is appropriate for all states, including states that do not experience much tornadic activity.”

Added Richard Smith, Warning Coordination Meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Norman, Oklahoma: “Tornado awareness and education is so important for anyone who lives in an area where tornadoes happen, especially those charged with making critical decisions in their communities. While some learn about tornadoes in NWS storm spotter training, those classes are often geared toward the more technical aspects of storm observation and reporting and may not reach everyone who needs the information. This new course provides decision-makers with the basic facts about tornadoes that will hopefully enable them to do their jobs more effectively.”

Given that the demand for these deliveries far exceeded the availability of seats, NDPTC expects that there will be high demand across the country as tornadoes continue to be a threat throughout the nation.

To learn more about the National Disaster Preparedness Training Center, visit ndptc.hawaii.edu.