At 4:30 in the afternoon on November 15, 1989, an F4 tornado ripped through Huntsville, Alabama killing 21 people. It could have been much worse save for the quick thinking of the people running the after-school program at Jones Valley Elementary. They took the children under the stairs as soon as the power went out. They survived, though the top floor was torn from the building. A mother out front who had come to pick up her child was among the 21 casualties.
That was my brother’s school. My church and several others were destroyed. My route to school changed for months while they rebuilt and cleared the area. These are the sorts of stories you collect living in the No. 1 place for tornadoes per capita. And it is these stories that instill a healthy respect for tornadoes, and heeding tornado warnings.
This respect for tornado warnings has led me to consider in detail how they work. Important aspects are how notifications arrive, how to understand if the warning applies to your particular location, and the urgency of the warning. This led me to learn to how to build and code an Internet of Things (IoT) device to alert for tornado warnings.
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Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.