"Issuing the warning is only part of the battle," he said. "The challenge is disseminating the information so that it gets to the right people. That goes beyond meteorology. … Having a good warning or a timely warning doesn't guarantee that people know they're in danger."
Markowski envisions a future where NOAA weather radio is in every car or message alerts can be sent to every person's cell phone.
Over the past 10 years, forecasters have gotten much better at predicting and warning people about tornadoes, a fact that causes frustration when he shares stories about tornado fatalities.
"All of these advances we make are only as good as our ability to have people take shelter in safe places," he said.
Having a plan before that warning siren goes off, however, is essential, according to Accuweather meteorologist Henry Marguisity.
"When you're in a situation where you're in a tornado risk area, you have to have a game plan ready to go and be ready for what could happen — especially this year," Marguisity said. "We're so far above normal in the reports of tornadoes. People should be especially careful in the Midwest; they should really take this seriously."
This year in the U.S., a record number of tornadoes has already killed more than 100 people. And forecasters don't expect things to get much better, at least not in the coming week.
Accuweather is forecasting severe weather and potential tornadoes in Wisconsin, Illinois and Southern Kansas, with more severe weather on Saturday in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York.
"Sometimes people have to take a little more care," Penn State's Searles said. "If people aren't able to look and take a little personally responsibility, it is a little hard to do. Educating yourself can really aid or help prevent disasters from happening as far as loss of life."