NOAA representatives say that Warn on Forecast combines high-resolution satellite, radar, and surface data to create the model and update it every 15 minutes or so.

But NOAA also says the model requires further development and testing, and that a challenge remains to quickly communicate information to forecasters. The question also remains as to whether people will use the extra time to find shelter or not.

“Such notice could be a huge boon to public safety in places like malls and stadiums, where it takes time to evacuate,” said Henson. “But on the individual scale, people might be tempted to procrastinate before seeking shelter. We’ll need good social science research to understand how best to use these innovative new products.”