Today is the 75th Anniversary of Fawbush & Miller's Tinker AFB Tornado Forecast

Feb 19, 2021
The events of 75 years ago today changed the course of the science of meteorology: It was the first successful tornado forecast (watch) of the modern era. I have a piece here: 75 Years Ago Today...

If this amazing coincidence had not occurred, there is no telling how long it would have taken for tornado forecasting to take root. The Weather Bureau had absolutely no interested in being in the tornado business. In 1948, use of the word "tornado" was forbidden. While the USWB set up SELS in KC in the early 1950's, their meteorologists were still forbidden to issue tornado warnings. That changed in 1957 when WB meteorologists Bob Babb and Joe Audsley issued what we would call tornado warnings for the Ruskin Heights Tornado. They genuinely thought they would be fired the next day!

Francis Reichelderfer, who had become Chief of the Weather Bureau in 1938 and lasted until 1963, was opposed to tornado warnings. I suspect he would have had to retire before civilian tornado warnings would have begun, absent Fawbush and Miller.
I read about this in a book called ”Storm Kings”. For those that like to read, this book goes all the way back to the 1700’s (if I remember correctly), when they were trying to figure out what a tornado was to the modern era of forecasting. The chapter on the Tinker AFB was one of my favorites!
Yes, I read this - it was interesting. I think one of the first episodes is about Benjamin Franklin chasing a tornado on a horse.
I read about this in a book called ”Storm Kings”.
I don't know how I missed this at the time, but here goes: Use caution when reading Storm Kings. There are many errors of fact in that book. To take just one -- the tiny Joplin TV market did not have helicopters let alone following the May 22, 2011, tornado.