Amidst the tragedy… Moore, Oklahoma provides the nation a teachable moment.

Speaking of teachable, let’s start with those teachers. Every news vignette reminds us that our K-12 teachers are instructors, but far more. When the situation demands, they’re true first responders. Heroes.

But not just heroes. They didn’t just risk life and limb trying futilely to protect the children. They did that while actually doing the right things to protect those kids. They took action that worked. They were brave and brilliant. In this case, all those folks we have seen picking over the school rubble the past few nights were in actual fact only the second responders.

Then there’s the whole discussion about how to shelter-in-place in the face of such a terrifying threat….options ranging from below-ground shelters to safe rooms. The fresh piece to the discussion this time around is the shift in focus from individual homes to schools (hardly a surprise), hospitals, and other larger public spaces and what can be done in those contexts. Expect this to be a topic for reflection and debate for a long time, and not just in Tornado Alley.

There’s also a budding conversation where these topics intersect with social- and climate change. Andy Revkin has provided an interesting discussion thread over the past two days. You might start your reading here.

And finally, we have to note that the weather enterprise… the National Weather Service and its private sector partners, the private weather services and the broadcast meteorologists… did a splendid job bringing general public across a broad swath of the central United States through progressively heightened states of severe-weather alert over a period of several days. We saw and heard some reference after the fact to “fifteen minutes of warning,” but that was merely the climactic stage of the preparedness process which had built for almost a week. If you’re of a certain age (and you don’t have to go too far back), you can remember when tornado warnings were triggered by volunteer spotters (not today’s technology), started on average 3 minutes after tornado touchdown, and had a false-alarm rate of 70%.

The trend is positive. Today weather-ready. Tomorrow, weather-readier.

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