Tornado Detection

T. Mosley

EF0
Feb 24, 2007
33
0
0
Houston, TX
www.jtrforums.com
Has any chaser here ever actually tried this?

YOU HAVE AT LEAST ONE TORNADO DETECTOR IN YOUR HOME. TORNADO DETECTION INSTRUCTIONS

First-----warm up your TV set and tune in channel 13. Darken the screen to almost black (use the brightness control).

Second----turn to channel 2 and leave the volume control down (unless you have a broadcaster on that channel). Your tornado detector is now in operation. As a storm approaches, lightning will produce momentary white bands of varying widths across the screen (color sets produce a colored band). A tornado within 15 and 20 miles will produce a totally white screen and remain white (color on color sets). Should this occur, turn off your TV set, take your portable radio and go to a place of shelter immediately.

This system was discovered by Newton Weller of West Des Moines, Iowa after twelve years of study. It works because every TV set has channel 2 set at 55 megacycles. Lightning and tornadoes generate a signal near this frequency which overrides the brightness control. Channel 13 is at the "high" end of the frequency band and is not affected. This is why the darkness must be set on that channel. Keep a portable radio handy for emergency instructions and in case of power failure. Lightning will cause intermittent static on a radio tuned on 550 kilocycles. A tornado will cause steady, continuous static.

For more, go to http://www.madsci.org/posts/archives/aug98/899129606.Es.r.html



I have read conflicting reports of its efficacy. When living in West Texas, I tried it on several occasions at home but never got the continuous glow. Tornadic storms were almost always in the area each spring, but not the immediate area.

As one of my pet theories is that tornadic storms do exhibit unusual electrical activity, this 'detector' at least seems to make sense in concept. but I would value the experience and opinions of those who have seen these storms up close and personal, if such is to be had.
 
Sep 15, 2005
80
4
6
Troy, NY
Did you say "absolutely effective?"

Take that TVS algorithm and Doppler radar! You have been owned by a superior technology 'an old school tv set'....


It's obvious what to do now, throw away the weather radio and ignore the local sirens cause they are annoying. =)

hehe :p.

Eddie
 

Doug Lee

The amateur 6 Meter band is 50 - 54 MHz. Thunderstorms are thought to enhance a long distance propagation mode known as Sporadic E, which is due to increased density of the E layer of the ionosphere. Maybe the signal showing up on the screen is actually coming from 6M ham stations and distant Ch. 2 TV stations.

But then, maybe wrapping your head in tin foil will help the reception! :rolleyes:
 
Apr 7, 2006
227
0
5
If you use broadcast instead of cable, I know for a fact lightning will cause disruption on all channels (lightning basically creates waves across the entire spectrum). As for a tornado, I doubt we have EM tornadoes. Otherwise, Some of the long-time chasers may have skin cancer by now. :p
 

T. Mosley

EF0
Feb 24, 2007
33
0
0
Houston, TX
www.jtrforums.com
I had first seen this procedure in print about 1970. I had tried it over many years in West Texas, from 1970 - 1988, but was apparently never in proper position. The times when I WAS in position I did not have TV access (the primitive electronics days of the early 1980's) and so never was able to benchmark this, although I have since seen plenty of negative commentary about it.

But if anyone can definitively prove or disprove it, it is the chasers. I now have a 5" B&W TV that plugs into the car's power outlet and am finally prepared for action now that I am 500 miles away from Tornado Alley.

Please let us know if anyone has occasion to benchmark this method one way or another.
 

Kris Morgan

Enthusiast
Oct 10, 2019
5
3
1
Arizona
Mr Glenn Dixon provided waaayyy back from 2007 makes the statement the channel 13 method is "ineffective", and gives a link to a NWS page as his source. That link is dead, but it is archived- source- National Weather Service - NWS Hanford

Known as the Weller Method when used in the 60's and early 70's, it was possible to detect tornadoes using the TV or the AM radio. The theory is that severe thunderstorms which contain a tornado will also contain large amounts of lightning. The user was to turn the television to channel 13, turn down the brightness till the screen was almost black then switch to channel 2. As the tornado developed, the lightning intensity would increase to a point that would cause the screen to turn bright white since channel 2 is near the same frequency as the signal produced by the lightning and would override the brightness control. (Using the radio, the static would become continuous at 55MHz, on the low end on the dial).

While this method can work, this is absolutely NOT foolproof because...
  • Research has shown that tornadoes can (and do) form when the parent cloud contains little lightning. Conversely, not all thunderstorms which contain a large amount of lightning will always produce a tornado.
  • Some television sets are designed with filters to prevent this from happening.
  • Many people now have cable. If you do, this will not work.
This method produces far too many false alarms in the detection of tornadoes and also misses many of the tornadoes that do form "
The text then states that it "does not work" and "should not be used" all in bold, red letters. Going by their reasons quoted above, that's not good enough reason to *not* use the channel 13 method. I recommend trying it- not as a family safety rule, but as a SCIENCE INSTRUCTION experiment. Now, way back when that page was posted, a lot of people did indeed have cable TV (plus, what a crummy reason they stated! It is not difficult to choose OTA instead of cable on the set when trying this experiment, is it not??) and today most people... do not have cable.

Not sure of all the filters on today's TVs, but being an admirer of older tech, I would try it on an old, or cheap set just for kicks. The way the Nat'l Weather Service admonishes anyone from doing this trick, acting as if hordes of people would be relying on this novelty as their sole tornado warning system.

I would love to hear/see anyone who's done it and could capture video. I thought I recalled vaguely a video of someone doing this exact experiment, but it's near impossible to find ANY thing worth watching (that is, what you searched for...) on youtube these days.
 

James K

EF2
Mar 26, 2019
192
78
6
Colorado
Kris Morgan said:
Not sure of all the filters on today's TVs,
Modern TVs being for digital broadcasts, I don't think you'd get anything at all. (just a blue screen and "no signal")


--------------------------------
Whether it actually worked or not, still an interesting theory. Never seen that before.
I still have an old analog 'tube' TV sitting around .lol.
 
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Kris Morgan

Enthusiast
Oct 10, 2019
5
3
1
Arizona
The modern broadcasts are digital, TVs receive both analogue and digital. If they didn't receive analogue, your ROKU would not work.
 

Kris Morgan

Enthusiast
Oct 10, 2019
5
3
1
Arizona
Psst - HDMI is digital, not analogue :)
Psst., HDMI is a proprietary AV interface, not a broadcast medium. ROKU is analogue. How you connect it to your devices is another. Also, whether one uses Roku or not is really meaningless in this discussion anyway, the subject was and is tornado detection. I would still use the channel 2 / 13 method, just as a novelty and science fun experiment.
 
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Kris Morgan

Enthusiast
Oct 10, 2019
5
3
1
Arizona
Unless I'm missing something, this method isn't detecting tornadoes, it's detecting lightning strikes. It is employing an old TV similar to how you pick up "sferics"on an AM radio. The original assumption is that some pattern of lightning activity can be used to predict a tornado, which we now know is not possible.
Yes, pretty much. It's a novelty. Some enjoy this kind of thing- I do, being a dx-er & hearing the "lightning strikes" from far off MW stations warms the heart.