Warnings issued minutes before Tippecanoe Co. tornadoes

A radar image depicts the November 17 tornado in Tippecanoe County.
A radar image depicts the November 17 tornado in Tippecanoe County.

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) – Nov. 17 is a day Tippecanoe County residents will never forget. It’s the time leading up to that day that is perhaps most important, and those moments are monitored at the National Weather Service office in Indianapolis.

“We can infer from a particular pattern that we’re seeing maybe up to a week out that we’re going to want to watch a particular day because this could be a severe weather day,” said NWS meteorologist Joseph Nield.

The Indianapolis office is responsible for monitoring 39 counties in Indiana, including Tippecanoe. Nield said it’s their responsibility to issue tornado warnings as soon as possible.

“We’re issuing those warnings here locally in a matter of 10, 20, 30 seconds,” said Nield.

On Nov. 17, that warning for Tippecanoe County was issued 10 minutes before the tornadoes touched down. Nield said that’s about average warning time and usually gives residents enough time to seek shelter.

“In most situations, people are in an area that they know that they’re able to get to a safer area within that location within a span of a minute or two, if not less than that,” said Nield.

Once that warning is issued, local emergency officials will sound the tornado sirens. While sirens may sound, Nield said what often causes injury is residents’ hesitancy to go to a safe place.

“Arguably the most important, the response from the citizens that receive the warning, is actually one of the portions of the system that’s probably the most out of our control,” said Nield.

That’s why this severe weather season, Nield and other meteorologists are asking Hoosiers to act on those warnings immediately.

“A few seconds, a few minutes delay can really put you in a dangerous situation,” said Nield.

Severe weather season in Indiana will be at its peak through June.

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