Another Triumph of Weather Science

At this time yesterday, monster tornadoes were raking the Nebraska prairie, overturning people's lives. Tragically, two were killed including a little girl. Being a parent and grandparent, I can not even imagine the depth of their grief.

There is a small ray of sunshine: But for weather science, it would have been far, far worse. 

Let's start with meteorological infrastructure: The launch of a special weather balloon from the Omaha NWS office that revealed the extremely favorable conditions for tornadoes.
The weather satellite that showed the boundary in eastern Nebraska that increased the chances of rotational thunderstorms.

The Doppler (wind-sensing) radar clearly tracked two tornadoes (circled) with the southern storm approaching Pilger (arrow).
The red polygon is the tornado warning issued by the National Weather Service in Omaha. If you've never seen the text of a tornado warning, this is what it looked like:
Finally, there were the storm chasers sending live video confirming what the weather instruments indicated. Studies have shown live video increases the credibility of warnings and the likelihood that people will take the appropriate precautions.

The system worked very well yesterday. Based on my rough calculations (comparing small town tornado fatalities before there was a warning system), about 50 lives were saved. Fifty precious lives!

Deserving special praise are the National Weather Service in Omaha for its accurate warnings and the Storm Prediction Center for its "particularly dangerous situation tornado watch" highlighting the critical nature of the threat. 

Weather science is an indispensable part of American life. Meteorology saves lives and property every week but rarely receives the recognition it deserves. 

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