Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Some Thoughts Pertaining to Smart Phones and Tornado Warnings

Conventional wisdom in meteorology says that brief tornadoes that spin up with "mesolows" cannot be warned of because "the tornado will be gone before we can get the warning out."

I have disagreed. In the era of smart phones and immediate television notifications (crawls), there is time. They display a warning instantly.

An example is yesterday in far northwest Kansas.
The "19hr" is because I retrieved this a few minutes ago.

Please note that in this case, the Goodland NWS did a great job and had a tornado warning out in time to notify people in danger. But, that is the exception rather than the rule.

Even though I had to add the state abbreviations and note the location of the developing tornado and extreme winds, the notification was on Twitter and was available before the tornado and damaging winds occurred:

As indicated by my circles, the strongest radar-indicated winds went south of St. Francis so I imagine the peak gusts were indeed around 90 mph. That area is very sparsely populated, so the lack of confirmation does not surprise me.

The National Weather Service should put better warning software in place so warnings can be issued more quickly and, as a whole, should rethink tornado warnings in these situations. Had this been in a densely populated area, there would have been considerable mild to moderate damage.

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Addition: Here is a view of the extreme winds.

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