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Weather Service makes changes on tornado warnings

Something doesn't sound right about this story? :) heh




Story Clip:


Weather Service makes changes on tornado warnings


Tuesday, June 21, 2005 12:53 PM CDT

Special to the Times-Record

The US Weather Service has changed tornado warnings recently.

"It used to be that a tornado warning was issued only if a funnel, which has not touched the ground, or a tornado, which is a funnel that has reached the ground, had been sighted," Norma Duppler, Barnes County emergency manager, said.



Now, the Weather Service issues a tornado for any rotating cloud in order to give people more warning time. "This can be the entire severe thunderstorm rotating or a wall cloud at the rear of a thunderstorm that can spawn tornados," Duppler said.


http://www.times-online.com/articles/2005/...therservice.txt
 
Originally posted by Marcus Opitz
I guess that is somewhat already done with Doppler radar indicated tornadoes isnt it?

Pretty much, although it does give a little more lead time to the chaser listening for warnings and try and get to the storm in time.
 
No idea why they would talk to an EM about NWS policy! NWS has made no changes in their tornado warning procedures. And they do not issue for any rotating cloud.

The NWS has issed warnings without any visual reports forever. Hence the phrase "DOPPLER RADAR INDICATES A POSSIBLE TORNADO."
 
Originally posted by rdale
No idea why they would talk to an EM about NWS policy! NWS has made no changes in their tornado warning procedures. And they do not issue for any rotating cloud.

The NWS has issed warnings without any visual reports forever. Hence the phrase \"DOPPLER RADAR INDICATES A POSSIBLE TORNADO.\"

What I don't understand is the way the reporter is reporting this story. If the NWS issues a warning for EVERY rotating storm then we would prob have several hundred false alarms per season.

I don't think the article is correct. Either they do not understand HOW the NWS issues warnings OR they are misquoting someone.

I highly doubt that the NWS is going to change how they issue warnings. There is no way they will issue a warning for EVERY rotating storm.

Unless I am not understanding the article.
 
Did anyone else catch this:
If weather spotters see any funnels or tornados, they radio or call 911 Dispatch. Dispatch will notify KOVC.
The dispatchers inform the local media but not the NWS? Just another indication that this article is poorly written. I would guess the EM isn't much of a weather weenie and so can't quite get the right meaning across. The reporter, who is likely even less of a weather weenie, further misstated information. It's like a game of "telephone" basically.


Ben
 
Originally posted by Ben Cotton
Did anyone else catch this:
If weather spotters see any funnels or tornados, they radio or call 911 Dispatch. Dispatch will notify KOVC.
The dispatchers inform the local media but not the NWS? Just another indication that this article is poorly written. I would guess the EM isn't much of a weather weenie and so can't quite get the right meaning across. The reporter, who is likely even less of a weather weenie, further misstated information. It's like a game of "telephone" basically.


Ben

Hmmm

Heh...I think the reporter did a poor job on the entire article. Hard to know what the truth is.
 
Weather and journalism ... here's where I could get on a soapbox.

My degree and career are in journalism, but one of my biggest passions is weather. In the last couple of years, they have crossed in the form of a weather column.

Part of why I do what I do is that there is TONS of bad weather journalism out there. Not all of it, but I would say weather is one of the most poorly covered subjects of all in the popular media, and I'm speaking as an "insider" in both areas.

The newsroom I work in is better than most -- we do well covering the infrequent major weather stories here. I've put on a couple of weather seminars for reporters here, always well attended. I think better weather reporting is a great need in the media, because this is a subject that affects almost every person alive everyday.
 
I agree ... better weather journalism is certainly a niche that has a great deal of room for improvement these days. Many chasers refuse to give interviews anymore because of the way written media tends to discombobulate everything that is said. Everyone in the world loves to talk about weather ... it's the first page I turn to in the paper ... but there are no articles there, only estimated high and low temps and a map of the country. We need more professionally-written copy by the people who know the ropes.
 
Back before I did the weather column, when I was an editor in small-town Arkansas, I remember calling the Weather Service office working on stories about weather events. The minute the mets realized I could speak the language with them, at least moderately well, their entire tone of voice and approach to the interview changed. It was obvious they wanted to be able to talk more, but were skeptical of the media's ability to grasp what they were saying and relay that accurately. Once they knew I had some weather knowledge, they opened up more and I was able to get a better story. (I have great relations with the NWS office here, and the local TV mets -- they see my work as complementary to theirs.)

Weather has not been a subject assigned as a beat at most newspapers, and I don't quite know why.
 
Originally posted by Kevin Myatt
Weather has not been a subject assigned as a beat at most newspapers, and I don't quite know why.
I would venture to say that disinterest is the cause. I think most people don't particularly care about the weather that doesn't affect them, except for novelties like land-falling hurricanes and tornado outbreaks. The average newspaper reader is probably content with the forecast temperature extrema and POPs. That's part of the reason why you dont' see anything of great substance on TWC: the audience just doesn't care.

Now, it could be that that's just my cynical perception of things, and that perhaps the general public would be more interested in weather news if they were exposed to it. For all meteorologists know about weather, think of how little we know about people. Personally, I'd like to see a lot more research done in conjunction with sociologists to examine things like warning reactions, interest in weather beyond what has immediate effect, etc. I'm just too lazy to do any of it. ;-)


Ben
 
There's more interest in weather than you think. I have been stunned by the response my column has received in the past two years. Weather Journal has a sizeable and very committed following that, according to the emails I've gotten, transcends intense hard-core weather people like us. I think it's more that it fills a niche that wasn't filled before than any glorious ability of mine. I'm just writing about what I love.

I think of weather enthusiasts on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. The Cat 3 and higher weather enthusiasts come to boards like this one and other technical sites. But beyond them, there's a sizeable crowd of Cat 1 and 2 weather enthusiasts who crave more than they're getting but aren't so inclined to dive into more technical stuff. Weather is interesting to them, but not their biggest interest. And then there's the tropical depression and tropical storm level weather interests who plug in when something big's going on. (In my area, snow events draw the biggest attention).

Everybody talks about weather ... you know the old saying. So someone's interested.
 
Just taken from text of a tornado warning up in ND:

* AT 232 PM CDT...WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WITH STRONG ROTATION 7 MILES SOUTH OF PENN...OR 8 MILES WEST OF DEVILS LAKE...MOVING TO THE NORTHEAST AT 30 MPH.
 
They SHOULD change the way they issue tornado warnings, but not for every rotating t-storm. Just what we need - MORE false warnings. Soon a tornado warning will be as meaningful as an orange terrorist alert. There has been discussion of issuing tornado warnings by "sectors", instead of counties. Good idea? Absolutely. Especially in counties that are very large. Counties would be divided into sectors, and THAT sector would be under a warning, instead of falsely alerting an entire area. THIS way, warnings would be dramatically cut down for any one spot, and if a warning WAS issued for your sector, then you could at least count on getting SOMETHING to monitor. Issuing a tornado warning for a rotating storm is ridiculous. How many rotating storms never produce a tornado? The NWS has taken a lot of heat lately, and some of it justified, some is not. Let's hope this "sector" thing pans out.
 
"Issuing a tornado warning for a rotating storm is ridiculous. How many rotating storms never produce a tornado? "

Do not worry - as was made clear in this thread, the reporter / EMA director do not know what they are talking about.
 
Do not worry - as was made clear in this thread, the reporter / EMA director do not know what they are talking about.[/quote]


Look at one of the other posts...about issuing a tornado warning because a storm showed rotation. It's ALREADY being done. The EMA director is simply stating what is ALREADY taking place. The more these rotating storms are classified as "probable" tornado producers, and ultimately go tornado warned, the more people will ignore the REAL threats.
 
More than not, issuing them on strong rotation is hit or miss, but I remember seeing a view on the local news after the event from a skytracker camera on top of this local station's building and saw some rotation on the western edge of the storm just as the tornado warning was issued. The event that occurred 30 minutes later was what is commonly called in chasing circles as the Mulvane tornado.

I remember looking at that storm for 30 minutes (in the middle of that, I was in the middle of Mulvane, then went back the direction I came in) before it did shot the first tornado down. It looked ominous all of that time, but didn't do anything until it hit an atmosphere to its east allowing for lower LCLs and more shear.

Now, this usually doesn't happen when a storm is warned for rotation, but days like this one you would take it seriously.

Now, I have started seeing the flip side where it takes more than a funnel just dangling for 15 seconds (and this one depended on its history). Two weeks ago, a previously tornado-warned (which at least produced funnels, and maybe a tornado) storm parked about 15 miles north of Wichita and kept developing new rotations as the storm constantly developed over the same area. After the last tornado warning expired (there were two in succession), there were spotters from a reputable radio station as well as spotters reporting a wall cloud and occasionally a funnel. Nothing warned, but it would have been a false warning as nothing touched down. Another funnel was reported with a storm two days later, but nothing happened tornado wise on that one either.

The ICT NWS usually doesn't issue a warning anymore unless there is a rotating wall cloud, a funnel cloud, a tornado reported, or tight and rapid rotation on radar/hook echo. They are pretty good at nailing when a tornado warning should be issued and when to lay off on one, so I won't question their method.
 
"The EMA director is simply stating what is ALREADY taking place."

Again - the EMA director and the article are WRONG. They do not issue a TOR warning for every rotating thunderstorm. If that thunderstorm has a STRONG rotation, and the environment is one where a tornado is likely, they issue. That's a very limited subset of rotating storms.

"The more these rotating storms are classified as "probable" tornado producers, and ultimately go tornado warned, the more people will ignore the REAL threats."

Sounds like you are advocating waiting for the touchdown to be phoned in before issuing a warning? Bad idea... Might as well give AccuWeather the NEXRAD sites because NWS won't be using them ;>
 
Sounds like you are advocating waiting for the touchdown to be phoned in before issuing a warning? Bad idea... Might as well give AccuWeather the NEXRAD sites because NWS won't be using them (QUOTE)


Not at all. What I'm saying is......you can NOT issue a tornado warning for every rotating storm. If you do that, then people will simply ignore the warnings after a few tornado-warned rotating storms spin right through without ever producing so much as a funnel cloud. That's why we need reliable spotters, and a different approach. Like I advocated in an earlier post....we need to change the county warning system to a "sector" warning system. At least when a warning is issued, a MUCH smaller area will be affected, therefore.....reducing the number of people who would be warned for "nothing". Also, instead of issuing a WARNING, why not issue a "tornado alert" for an approaching rotating storm? That would fall into the category between watch and warning. *******Two scenarios...I hear on the radio that a tornado alert has been issued for sector 3 of Oconee county, SC (where I live), I would KNOW that something could happen here, and with a smaller area warned, it would be a pretty sure bet that a decent storm WOULD affect our area. Because of THAT, I would pay attention next time. SCENE II....A tornado warning is issued for our county. 45 miles to the North, they get a decent storm, but no tubes, and sunny skies here the entire time. What happens the next time? I ignore the warnings altogether. These are hypothetical situations, but very likely. The difference is that I, myself, would always pay attention, because I would be chasing. I'm actually trying to get the attention of someone who would at least listen to my ideas. The sector thing, and the alert thing, imo, could eventually save lives.
 
we need to change the county warning system to a "sector" warning system. At least when a warning is issued, a MUCH smaller area will be affected, therefore.....reducing the number of people who would be warned for "nothing".

Thankfully, the NWS is testing the polygon warning system this year (perhaps it's been used in-house in previous years, but I'm not sure -- I've heard that the NWS used polygons for several years, just that the mets drew them in the shape of the county affected). I think a lot of the warning issue is based on statistics and verification. Right or wrong, the folks who issues warnings are going to get in much deeper trouble if they miss an event than if they overwarn an event. I'd imagine that the politics game comes into play with "warning lead times" as well. The fact of the matter is that people get up in arms if a non-warned storm produces tornadic damage, and the next thing ya know, there are politicians knocking on the doors of the NWS (and some private firms, I'm sure, throwing money at the politicians, claiming that they can do it better LOL).

False alarms are an important aspect when warning, but I think that figure is much less important (politically) than the probability of detection. In the ideal world, this wouldn't be the case; in the real world, with politics and budgetary issues, it is.
 
"What I'm saying is......you can NOT issue a tornado warning for every rotating storm."

I understand that - NWS understands that - everyone in the weather business understands that ;> No meteorological representative ever said anyone issues a warning for every rotating thunderstorm. Someone who has no involvement in the field said something to a reporter with no idea of the warning process and it made it into print. Don't believe everything you read...
 
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