Tuesday, November 19, 2013

"I Would Say We Had Pretty Good Warning, We Just Didn't Listen To It"

I was pleased when a friend of mine let me know yesterday that NPR had run a piece praising Sunday's storm warnings. I was shocked when The Wichita Eagle had a similar story on the front page this morning, not because the Eagle is anti-meteorologist (they give us very fair coverage) but because they played it so prominently.

For the first time, it appears meteorology is getting some credit for Sunday's amazing, lifesaving forecasts and warnings:


How good were the forecasts? Amazingly good. The team at the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center (SPC) made the forecast below, a version of which appeared on this blog at 7:37am Sunday. By any analysis, it was amazing -- and, for an out-of-season -- event perhaps unprecedented. Note the concentration of tornadoes (red symbols) in the purple (highest odds) area.

It gets better. For once, instead of the "we had no warning" canard, we actually have a person acknowledge the warning. The injury resulted from their inaction.
click to enlarge




Are the unfair "blame the meteorologist" problems solved? Hardly. On Sunday, as the tornadoes were getting going, there were several of the usual ignorant comments. The same NPR report yesterday had a silly comment about meteorologists not forecasting a major event early in the day. The brightly colored SPC forecast (above) demonstrates we were forecasting exactly that. But, let's not dwell on those today.

Meteorologists, as a group, are amazingly dedicated. Yes, we get paid, but most of us wouldn't do anything else. The story of how tornadoes, hurricanes, and airline wind shear crashes have been tamed (not conquered) takes an entire book to tell. I've been lucky. I've gotten more than my share of recognition. It is very, very nice to see the rest of the field, meteorologists, storm chasers, emergency manager getting much deserved appreciation for their work.  

In the meantime, I'm going to continue to work on continuing to improve the warning system for all types of extreme weather (ice storms, blizzards, flash floods) and trying to insure people understand and use the warning system so lives are saved and economic losses mitigated. 

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