Dozens of tornadoes ripped through Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Alabama and other states last weekend. More than a dozen people were hurt, and at least nine died in Mississippi alone.
Clearly, tornado season has begun.
That used to mean the shrill tones and weather warnings of the Emergency Alert System on broadcast radio and TV. Those alerts still come, but fewer are listening.
With iPods, on-demand TV, and streaming video growing in popularity, it's often a challenge to reach a mass audience in an emergency.
Many local governments now offer text message or email alerts. The Weather Channel offers both, as well. FEMA continues work on what they call the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS). It's designed to reach more people in more ways.
But if you live in tornado alley, your safest bet in any kind of crisis is a battery operated NOAA weather radio.
Brandi Richardson, meteorologist at the National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office in Shreveport recently told a reporter, "There's no other piece of technology that's going to wake you up in the middle of the night aside from maybe a cell phone if you get warnings via cell phone."
Most weather radios signal tornadoes and other severe weather outbreaks, but they also sound in the event of many other civil emergencies as well.