Reuters

Dire warnings prepare residents for the worst.

Tornadoes tore through the Midwest this weekend, leaving hundreds of families homeless and without power. In Thurman, Iowa (pictured above), 90 percent of homes and buildings were damaged.

In the days before the storms, forecasters tested a new warning system, issuing "sternly worded alerts" more than three days in advance. According to the Associated Press, the alerts warned that residents "could be killed if not underground or in a tornado shelter" and that "complete destruction of entire neighborhoods is likely ... making the area unrecognizable to survivors."

The National Weather Service has implored residents of Tornado Alley not to rely on siren alerts, particularly at night. Instead, they say residents should have several methods of receiving weather news, including radios, smartphones and television warnings. Albert Ashwood, the director of Oklahoma's Office of Emergency Management, told the Associated Press:

"Sirens are referred to as outdoor warning systems, and that's what they're there for: to tell people who are outdoors to come inside and find out what's going on."

Photo credit: Lane Hickenbottom/Reuters

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