The damage and destruction from the path of a tornado is incredible – and only matched by the sad stories of the survivors, if they are lucky enough to survive.

If there’s one thing that social media has improved – it is the ability of an individual in an affected area to get detailed updated by the minute on a smartphone or over the internet.

The old early warning systems were set up for radio, that was in the days when everyone listened to radios.   I do listen to the radio for maybe 5 minutes a day, in the car, just long enough to put in the CD or connect my ipod.   So the Twitter accounts and iphone-smartphone apps from CNN, the National Weather Service, Weatherbug and dozens more really help to keep people informed.

I often hear news anchors lament the over-availability of information these days, but I think the more access we get to this kind of information and other kinds of info is absolutely a wonderful thing for society and for most people!

If you do live in a tornado-, hurricane- or other disaster-likely area, the Weatherbug app is one of the best because you can set it to actually chirp if severe weather threatens.

As far as risk reduction – being able to protect yourself against major weather events is one of the threats you can more easily eliminate or at least manage.

Are there more?

“Although the average number of April tornadoes steadily increased from 74 a year in the 1950s to 163 a year in the 2000s, nearly all of the increase is of the least powerful tornadoes that may touch down briefly without causing much damage. That suggests better reporting is largely responsible for the increase.

There are, on average, 1,300 tornadoes each year in the United States, which have caused an average of 65 deaths annually in recent years.

The number of tornadoes rated from EF1 to EF5 on the enhanced Fujita scale, used to measure tornado strength, has stayed relatively constant for the past half century at about 500 annually. But in that time the number of confirmed EF0 tornadoes has steadily increased to more than 800 a year from less than 100 a year, said Harold Brooks, a research meteorologist at the National Severe Storms Laboratory. ”