Lubbock Tornado Anniversary Reminds Us to Always Be Aware
Today is the 52nd anniversary of the historic 1970 Lubbock tornado that left 26 dead, over 1,500 injured and inflicted over $1 billion dollars in damage (by today’s standards).
While we haven't seen a tornado of that magnitude touch down in the South Plains since that fateful day, it's just a matter of time and the culmination of the right atmospheric ingredients for a repeat event to occur. This is why the City of Lubbock has made some big changes this year to better protect its citizens.
Before 2022, the only way that you would know there was an imminent threat was through an electronic device that you had in your home or on your person. Now you can also depend on the city's new outdoor warning system. Sirens have been installed in high traffic areas all across Lubbock.
When a tornado warning is issued or if a trained spotter reports a sighting, these alarms will sound for 3-minute increments with 5-minute breaks in between. This same alert will also occur when a Severe Thunderstorm Warning is issued with the threat of 90 MPH winds or higher.
However, if the National Weather Service deems the tornado to be a "considerable" or "catastrophic" event, the sirens will sound for 5 minutes with only 1-minute breaks. If any of these warnings are to go off, it's imperative that you drop what you're doing and get to a place of safety.
The National Weather Service's goal is to give residents at least 13 minutes of lead time. Prior to the installation of these sirens, this was as little as 8 minutes. Those few minutes can be the difference between life and death, but even with the city's upgrade, urgency is imperative.
For a closer look at siren locations, make sure to check out this information from the City of Lubbock. Additionally, sign up for automatic severe weather alerts and check out this article on ways to prepare your home before severe weather strikes.
Finally, it's important to note that the city is testing the sirens each week and month to ensure that they are in proper working order. They will not test when severe weather is in the forecast. Therefore, don't be startled if you hear the sirens on the second Friday of the month between 9 and 10 a.m. even if it's a beautiful blue sky day.
Technology has clearly improved in the past half century, but Mother Nature is a powerful force that should be respected. If you hear sirens or a meteorologist cuts into your TV programming, these disturbances are solely occurring to prioritize your safety. Heed the warnings and wait for the severe weather to pass.