Advanced weather warnings can help reduce the impact of natural disasters, such as tornados and floods, by arming residents with information so they can protect themselves and their property, stock up on supplies to weather a storm, or even evacuate the area if necessary. A weather alert system can also help communities protect civic resources and critical infrastructure, while enabling emergency management agencies to advise residents of measures to take to avoid damage, injury, and loss of life.

Anyone who’s lived in, or even seen coverage of, a region hit hard by natural disaster can understand the immediate impact of devastation caused by severe storms, tornadoes, or floods. Weather tracking can help communities predict how they might need to disseminate resources in the face of impending natural disasters, so they are ready to remove debris blocking waterways, for instance, or have the emergency personnel in place to quickly restore power to critical areas or undertake life saving measures like search and rescue operations in flooded areas.

But weather warnings can save lives in perhaps less obvious ways, as well, by helping community leaders react quickly to avoid the devastation of severe weather like tornadoes. A Florida community’s use of weather tracking systems and notification services vividly illustrates their benefit. One afternoon in early 2007, a severe weather system began to threaten Broward County, Florida, right around the time that local schools were preparing for dismissal. Due to the county’s use of Earth Networks’ advance notification services, school administrators were immediately alerted and managed to delay dismissal. Schools were able to keep all students and personnel safe despite a tornado touching down a mere 13 minutes after the National Weather Service issued its official tornado warning.

The county’s access to personalized warnings through a severe weather tracker and notification service gave administrators enough time to bring all students indoors and get all personnel to safety, despite the rapid formation of the storm system. While the avoidance of disasters doesn’t usually get the same media coverage as the aftermath of those disasters that do cause devastation, the Brower County case demonstrates how weather alert systems can benefit communities and save lives.