Friday, April 9, 2010

TV Stations' Dilemma, Part II

I have received a surprising amount of email regarding the TV Stations' Dilemma post.  Storm chaser Robin Lorenson was kind enough to send me several of the photos they took (in darkness) of the storm in question.
Copyright 2010 Robin Lorenson

Remember, an observer can only see the sky when lightning flashes. What is the cloud formation above the electrical transmission tower?  A funnel cloud? A downburst? When faced with this ambiguity (remember, the radar said there was strong rotation in the storm), the only "safe" decision is to warn the public.

Meteorologists do an amazing job of saving lives with imperfect knowledge. Yes, there are false alarms at times. I'm hopeful that the Vortex II field experiment (which will be starting up again May 1) will shed some light on these challenges so that we can cut the false alarm rate which is higher than all of us would like.

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