US to Expand Tornado-Warning System

THE nation's greatly improved weather warnings can't help people who don't know about them, so the federal government is trying to make sure the word gets out.

Vice President Al Gore Jr. announced a three-agency effort last Thursday to expand the current National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio to include all types of disaster warnings and to increase network coverage from 75 percent to 95 percent of Americans.

The announcement came in the wake of devastating Palm Sunday tornadoes that claimed at least 43 lives in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, and the Carolinas. Although the National Weather Service issued warnings nearly 20 minutes before the first tornado touched down, ``The weak link in the chain was the inability to get that warning information to all of the people in the threatened area,'' Mr. Gore said.

Radios costing less than $25 turn on automatically when the weather network broadcasts an alert tone. Gore said emphasis will be placed on installing those radios in public gathering places ``so they will be as common as smoke detectors.''

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