The National Weather Service wants to make it even easier for you to understand severe weather with a new system.

At the National Weather Service in Springfield, when storms are on radar, meteorologists monitor them closely to let you know whether or not they become severe.

Once that happens, a watch or warning is issued.

We all remember what happened nearly two years ago in Joplin. One hundred fifty-eight people were killed when an EF5 tornado struck the city, making it the deadliest since record keeping began. After the storm, meteorologists and government officials got together to figure out a way to prevent so many deaths from happening. What they came up with was impact based warnings or IBW's.
"The National Weather Service is communicating more effectively to the public by using impact based warnings. our warnings essentially haven't changed, it's the communication within the warning has been adjusted a little bit," meteorologist Doug Cramer said. "It makes it much more easily absorbed for the public to understand."

Basically, the warnings now have stronger wording on what storms are capable of doing. For example, last April, the National Weather Service in Wichita, Kansas issued an IBW. It started as it normally would, saying there was a large tornado and where it was going.

The new added part is the impact - such as "This is a life threatening situation. You could be killed if not underground or in a tornado shelter." It gives more details on what the tornado is doing at the moment. It could read something such as: "Complete destruction of entire neighborhoods is likely. Many well-built homes and businesses will be completely swept from their foundations. Debris will block most roadways."

"Really, it's our goal at the National Weather Service to deliver the right type of communication to the public to tell them exactly what we expect is going to happen," Cramer said.

Some of the radar images and photos taken during that severe weather event in kansas showed that the tornadoes ranged from EF-0 to an EF-4 that stayed on the ground for over an hour! The most astounding statistic is that no lives were lost, because these warnings are designed to get your attention.

the IBW helps you be more prepared and aware during severe weather.

It's still experimental and they are being tested across the country on a case by case basis. In 2012, IBW's were tested in portions of Kansas and Missouri. They will be expanded this year to include dozens of other locations.