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Dingell, Tlaib, Stevens Request Answers from National Weather Service Regarding Lack of Warning Before Deadly Tornado

Representatives Debbie Dingell (MI-06), Rashida Tlaib (MI-12), and Haley Stevens (MI-11) today sent a letter to Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Richard Spinrad requesting insight into why no warning was issued ahead of the tornado in Livonia on June 5 that killed a child and injured his mother.
“We are writing to express our deep concern regarding the recent tornado and extreme weather in Michigan, which resulted in the tragic loss of life and severe damage to our communities. As reported, a tornado struck without any advance warning from the National Weather Service (NWS), which operates under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA),” the lawmakers write. “Emergency alerts are vital during natural disasters. They provide essential warnings that enable people to take necessary precautions to protect themselves and their families. The lack of a warning in this event raises questions about the current alert systems and their effectiveness in rapidly developing situations.”
Specifically, the lawmakers requested answers to the following questions:

  1. What were the specific reasons that the NWS was unable to detect and issue a warning for this tornado? Was there any indication of rapid development that could have been missed due to current technological limitations?
  2. What are the current protocols for issuing tornado warnings? What are the different mediums used to communicate with constituents, and how do they account for rapidly developing weather phenomena like this one? Are there any planned updates or improvements to these protocols to enhance their responsiveness?
  3. Are there any ongoing or planned efforts to upgrade radar and other detection technologies to better predict and monitor sudden tornado formations? How is NOAA addressing the potential for improving real-time data analysis and alert systems?
  4. Given the increasing frequency of extreme weather events, how is NOAA adapting its forecasting and alert strategies? What research is being conducted to understand and mitigate the impact of climate change on tornado activity and predictability?
  5. How does NOAA plan to enhance collaboration with local emergency management agencies to ensure a more coordinated response to rapidly developing weather emergencies? What steps are being taken to improve communication and alert dissemination at the local level?

View the full text of the letter here.

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