Better technology credited with fewer tornado deaths

Associated Press, Robert Imrie, Aug. 22, 2005

Better technology to warn people about dangerous weather and luck in having tornadoes not hit during the middle of the night are key factors that limited the deaths from more than 500 twisters in Wisconsin since 1982, experts say.

The fact only one person died in tornadoes that swept across southern Wisconsin last Thursday is a testimonial that a faster, more accurate warning system can save lives, the National Weather Service said Monday.

A Stoughton man was the only fatality in the 24 tornadoes that touched down and damaged about 370 homes in nine counties, causing about $27.2 million in damage and emergency response costs, Wisconsin Emergency Management said.

Dane County suffered the biggest loss, at $22 million, with 101 homes either destroyed or with major damage, mostly in a subdivision near Stoughton, the agency said.

The tornado warning for the Stoughton area was issued 20 minutes before the twister hit - some nine minutes earlier than the national average - giving people time to take cover, said Ken Rizzo, meteorologist in charge of the National Weather Service in Sullivan.

"The warning system worked so smoothly compared to 10 years ago," he said. "That is pretty incredible to put together that amount of lead time."

More:
http://www.duluthsuperior.com/mld/duluthsu...cs/12447874.htm
 
While it is true that tech has increased, I believe typically not enough credit is given to increased severe weather awarenesss of the public, and spotters and chasers that assist in warning and coordination.
 
While it is true that tech has increased, I believe typically not enough credit is given to increased severe weather awarenesss of the public, and spotters and chasers that assist in warning and coordination.

severe weather awareness of the public? maybe in Oklahoma and Texas. im willing to bet very few outside of tornado alley and especially in northeast illinois are really aware of a particular days threat for severe weather. Hell we still have radio stations telling people to hide under overpasses when a tornado approaches. The public is only aware after a major disaster like May 3rd and will forget a week or 2 later
 
Kids are very aware of what to do in storms, and as I recall all the deaths from May 3rd were adults... So it's getting much better.
 
severe weather awareness of the public?

Not just knowledge, but awareness. With all the shows constantly being shown about tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, etc combined with the typical local news channel's hype of severe weather I think that most people think about it than they used to. However the primary focus of my statement was really about the role of spotters and chasers.
 
While it is true that tech has increased, I believe typically not enough credit is given to increased severe weather awarenesss of the public, and spotters and chasers that assist in warning and coordination.

severe weather awareness of the public? maybe in Oklahoma and Texas. im willing to bet very few outside of tornado alley and especially in northeast illinois are really aware of a particular days threat for severe weather. Hell we still have radio stations telling people to hide under overpasses when a tornado approaches. The public is only aware after a major disaster like May 3rd and will forget a week or 2 later

Not true... Besides the occasional people that simply don't like to heed warnings (and I have seen quite a few in action), most of the people I know (and have grew up in the DTX area my whole life) typically consider severe weather a significant threat, and seek shelter.
 
The only death in Stoughton was 1 man who did as he should. He went to his basement. The chimney fell on top of him. I interviewed his neighbors and they all did take the warnings very seriously. One thing did disturbed me, was most of the people after the tornado passed went outside to tape it. There were 3 tondos on the ground at the time. There was no all clear message or warning that this might be the case until it passed that area. I know in Milwaukee, they did a good job stressing that people should take cover until the threat had passed.
The weather service has now has said there was 27 tornados that touched down that day and night. IMHO I can't believe more people didn't die in Stoughton that day. After covering the aftermath, these people were unbelievably lucky. Bricks were sheared off the houses, cars and boats were thrown though sides of the houses. In front of one house was an axe and other items from a barn at least a 1/4 mile away.
One lady that I interviewed swore she saw a cow in the funnel and then we learned that 2 horses were put down after they were carried a distance away.
In Milwaukee and other areas, they are finding photos and papers of people from Stoughton in their backyards.
I do have to thank Skip T for the information that he provided to me, while I was on my way up there. His insight was right on, with what happened up there.
 
The technological innovations of the past couple of decades most definitely have helped improve tornado warnings and coarser time/space scale forecasting (i.e., outlooks and watches). Stories such as these, unfortunately, ignore the *human* contribution and run rampant in the popular press, often encouraged by faceless suits and ties high up the bureaucratic chain who heavily promote the technological acquisition aspect with scant awareness of or attention to the human side.

There are forecasters putting Prismacolors to paper to analyze features the numerical models cannot resolve. There are storm observers seeing the badly outflow-undercut meso that the 88D algorithm at the distant RDA still indicates as potentially tornadic. They go unheralded and unrecognized but are, by far, the most important part of successful severe storms forecasting. At the core, predicting tornadic supercells is about predicting what are quite rare and exceptional events -- the very sort of forecasting most dependent upon the human master of the science *and* art of forecasting tornado potential.

I was working at an unnamed national forecasting entity the day of Stoughton and can assure you, without a doubt, that the human diagnostic process was (far and away, moreso than model guidance or objective analyses) the main reason that the mesoscale discussion and tornado watch went out well before that deadly event, and in the right place.

Strong warm front becoming uncapped E of a well developed surface low amidst favorable vertical shear profiles, enhanced by that very front, but with mesobeta scale signals best diagnosed by hand with colored pencil and best interpreted by experienced eyes and minds...
 
" best diagnosed by hand with colored pencil and best interpreted by experienced eyes and minds..."

You know you are speaking a foreign language to most people who've received their degree in the last two decades ;>
 
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