TornadoAlert?

Jan 27, 2011
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Russell, KS
Ok WTF is this thing? I saw it a couple weeks ago at Home Depot, and I have not been able to find anything about it other than stuff that looks like it was written by them. There's nothing on the box or in the manual that gives any indication about how it works, it just says that it 'detects tornadoes' with "NASA proven methodology".. It looks like snake oil along the lines of magnetic balance bracelets and magic fuel savers to me.. Anyone else seen it?



 
Apr 5, 2010
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Omaha, Nebraska
www.facebook.com
"The energy produced by severe weather can be detected and analyzed by monitoring radio frequency transmissions from the storm itself."

As you well may know, lightning is easily detected by AM radio. What you may not know...is that tornadoes are also detectable by a low hum on the very lowest AM frequencies. I remember hearing a presentation from a storm spotter in IA who used to spot during the 50's and 60's, often at night. He was totally unable to see the tornadoes due to being after dark, however if he turned his AM radio down very low, he would pick up a distinct hum if there was a tornado, which is how he would call in warnings. The method was found to be surprisingly accurate.

I'm guessing they just put a frequency sensor on a box and it goes off if its within range. It's just an AM receiver...for tornadoes....
 

Jeff Duda

Resident meteorological expert
Staff member
Oct 7, 2008
3,046
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Westminster, CO
www.meteor.iastate.edu
"The energy produced by severe weather can be detected and analyzed by monitoring radio frequency transmissions from the storm itself."

As you well may know, lightning is easily detected by AM radio. What you may not know...is that tornadoes are also detectable by a low hum on the very lowest AM frequencies. I remember hearing a presentation from a storm spotter in IA who used to spot during the 50's and 60's, often at night. He was totally unable to see the tornadoes due to being after dark, however if he turned his AM radio down very low, he would pick up a distinct hum if there was a tornado, which is how he would call in warnings. The method was found to be surprisingly accurate.

I'm guessing they just put a frequency sensor on a box and it goes off if its within range. It's just an AM receiver...for tornadoes....
I'd be willing to bet dollars that only works when you're really close to a tornado, say, within 5-10 miles, maybe less, and that's only if there isn't some other entity producing a similar signal to mask the tornado.
 
May 18, 2012
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Gaines, MI
Now at The Home Depot, and for only $40 more than a a good Midland NOAA Weather Radio that does the same thing, we offer you this best seller...
 
Jan 27, 2011
421
26
11
Russell, KS
You should read the small print on the outside of the box.

1: Go outside and place the device in your palm.

2: Tilt your palm and let the device fall to toward the ground.

3: Hits the ground = no tornado. Is moved slightly to the right or left before hitting the ground = severe storm. Violently leaves your hand and becomes airborne = tornado!
My Weather Rock has similar instructions.. Except that also tells me when it's raining, snowy, foggy, and sunny! :D
 
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Jun 14, 2009
328
154
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Altoona, Iowa
toddrector.com
It's hard to argue with a product that uses a "NASA-proven methodology" :)
I would be fun to crack the cover on one of these and take a look inside. My personal bet is that it scans the usual NOAA Weather Radio channels and triggers an alert based on that, without playing the voice data.
 

STexan

EF4
Feb 11, 2012
316
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Athens, TX
I found this. It's dated but someone might be trying to rehash old idea. Can you imagine the salesman that was required to get Home Depot to buy 50,000 units or whatever?
A radio receiver system for warning of an approaching tornado. The device is a regenerative detector tunable over the broad range of 25 to 60 MHz but normally tuned to the 53.25 MHz frequency. The system is capable of extracting from a carrier a tornado audio frequency signal as small as 0.5 microvolts. The tornado signal in the audio frequency range is extracted from the carrier frequency and is amplified by a general purpose amplifier. It is fed to trigger circuit for switching on an audio oscillator and a warning light. These warning devices stay on until they are manually switched off.
http://www.google.com/patents/US3810137
 
Apr 5, 2010
223
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Omaha, Nebraska
www.facebook.com
This isn't some mythical or snake oil product. Lightning sensors are common in general aviation and are used to detect and analyze storms, they are called 'stormscopes' and have been around for a while. The tornado version isn't much different. Although the physics is still pretty crazy, it seems that tornadoes give off a detectable signal due to static discharge from the tornado acting as a ground when it touches the earth. The storm continually builds and discharges potential energy until the tornado has lifted. That's what I heard from some radio geeks, so take it for what it's worth. Radios pick up the signal at 550khz and old VHF TV's picked it up at 55Mhz.
 
Apr 23, 2015
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Athens, AL
Ok WTF is this thing? I saw it a couple weeks ago at Home Depot, and I have not been able to find anything about it other than stuff that looks like it was written by them. There's nothing on the box or in the manual that gives any indication about how it works, it just says that it 'detects tornadoes' with "NASA proven methodology".. It looks like snake oil along the lines of magnetic balance bracelets and magic fuel savers to me.. Anyone else seen it?

[Broken External Image]:http://i.imgur.com/D2vu0vJ.jpg?2

Incredible. Hands down the most ridiculous product the world has ever seen.
 
Wow...and I thought it was nuts that pharmacies could sell homeopathic crap...this takes the cake.

This isn't some mythical or snake oil product.
Sure it is, absolutely is. All 'snake oil products' quote some meager valid statement (that tornadoes are associated with certain sound frequencies, and that research has been done into tornado detection via these frequencies) and then rip you off with a product that doesn't work. As Jeff pointed out, yeah *maybe* it would go off when the tornado is about to hit you, (I strongly doubt it) but that's not what it implies. A weather radio would be 100X more useful and cost 1/10th the price. So, I'd call that fraudulent. If there is any science that demonstrates its efficacy, lets see it (sound of crickets chirping...)

ETA: from their website (tornadfoalertme.com):

How It Works The energy
produced by severe weather can be detected and analyzed by monitoring radio frequency
transmissions from the storm itself.
Tornado Alert™ performs monitoring and analysis and activates both an audible siren
and visual alarm based upon the intensity of electrical energy associated with a
storm
The patent pending technology used by Tornado Alert™ was field tested across the United States for 7 years, including the deadly tornado outbreak of 2011.
Unlike other devices on the market, Tornado Alert™ distinguishes between single dangerous lightning strikes, non severe storms, severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. Tornado Alert™ issues alerts in real time based directly upon storm activity in your specific location. The alerts are completely independent of any other alert system.
.
Specifically,
Tornado Alert™
does not depend or rely upon the National Weather Service Emergency
Alert System (EAS). This direct and immediate detection of storm activity
gives the user an additional powerful tool to enhance their safety.
 
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The "device" listed does have some merit and scientific "backing". I will use backing in describing the fundamental reasoning behind the product but it should be understood that I am not validating the product by any means.

The theory behind the device and it's application revolve around acoustic frequencies and short term pressure changes in and near severe thunderstorms and specifically tornadoes. This is not a new theory, nor a scientific "breakthrough" in the field of meteorology as is somewhat hinted. Acoustic study of such has been going on for many years - mostly with limited results. This was due to the limited platform and distance from particular events. In 2008 I was contacted by a member of this now particular company who saw some of our acoustic data sets we recorded from that same year. We were asked if I would test bed a "device" for the 2009 season with the hopes that it would provide some of the same information as we had sent to Dr. Al Bedard. Not being able to work out a contractual obligation in detail, I kindly refused to assist and we continued with our project.

My understanding is that the prototype device was "installed" in a few various locations nationwide (I believe 4 locations) and that the "device" had a decent success rate. It should probably be noted that the success rate was highly skewed in ALL testing locations. Many of the test fail cases were simply not included in the results or changed for a pass criteria. For example: 25, April 2009 Enid, OK tornado. This tornado produced an acoustic signature that was recorded from the city of Enid proper after the tornado was in already in progress south of Enid. This event was given a pass test rate even though the "signature" was documented only 11 miles south of Enid. I might also add that the acoustic frequencies generated from the local wind farms were not documented or mentioned in any test case with this event or in this area, nor have they been - they simply ignored these man made "noises" in their documentation/tests results.

In 2010 the founder made some major modifications to the device that included VLF RF monitoring and as such includes that verbiage is the description:
How It Works The energy produced by severe weather can be detected and analyzed by monitoring radio frequency
transmissions from the storm itself.


That part of the device is nothing more than a glorified VLF receiver tuned to roughly 40Hz which is obviously prone to strong static interference (Think the bottom of the AM band) and as such the detection of static buildup can be heard from thousands of miles away. Again, not a new theory, nor one that I would want to bet my life on. The acoustics are certainly a different story and legit but the limitations of the device should be taken into account.