The new tornado warnings by the National Weather Service that include descriptive words such as "considerable" and "catastrophic" will go a long way toward better informing people whether or not to take cover. Emergency and law enforcement officials know that sounding sirens for severe weather that then turns out to be less severe can have a desensitizing effect on people. It's hoped that the new warnings prevent that from happening. Some people say sirens should only be activated in the case of a tornado. But over the last 15 or so years, there have been a number of straight-line winds that have pulled rows of towering mature trees out by their roots and ripped roofs off homes. People who don't take cover during those types of storms risk injury and even death. So the issue really isn't so much about activating false alarms as it is about the unpredictability of severe weather patterns. Like Barron County Emergency Services director Todd Volk said, the decision to sound a siren is not made by one county official looking out the window and sounding a siren. It's made in conjunction with National Weather Service meteorologists and county officials informed by trained spotters and public safety officials. The sound of a siren is an indication that emergency and public safety officials are doing their jobs and that people should take cover. Each one of us has the personal responsibility to decide how we will react to a particular warning. If we decide not to react and then suffer the consequences we have only ourselves to blame.
[The editorials that appear weekly in this space are the views of the newspaper as determined by The Chronotype's editorial board. All editorials are written by one or more members of the board, which consists of Warren Dorrance, Sam Finazzo, Gene Prigge and Eileen Nimm.]