When Did the NWS Decide to Get Out of the Tornado Warning Business?

"Local Storm Report" from the NWS in
 Denver-Boulder, 3:29pm MDT
How would you like to have a 1,400 pound anything flying into your home? Wouldn't you like to know so you could get in the basement out of its way? Certainly, if it flew into you or a member of your family, serious injury would occur.

Yet the National Weather Service (NWS) office for Denver-Boulder evidently didn't believe this tornado, nor the others that followed in the far east part of the Denver Metro yesterday, were worthy of a tornado warning. 

Tornado in the Denver area yesterday.
Courtesy of Reed Timmer.

I was hardly the only person who noticed. An alarmed friend of mine forwarded this:
The purple arrow points to a comment from my astonished friend that six chasers were doing live broadcasts of the tornado. The rose-colored arrows in the radar image point to tornado locations (to be clear, the tornadoes were on the ground). Storm chaser John Lamicq asked on Twitter, "How many more notifications does @NWSBoulder need to issue a warning?"

Excellent question. Evidently, issuing tornado warnings when strong tornadoes are on the ground is optional in today's National Weather Service. And, yes, the report of the 1,400 pound object came from the NWS early in the afternoon of tornadoes in the area, so they knew about it even before the later tornadoes formed. 

Across the country, a meteorology friend of mine in Pennsylvania emailed the following yesterday:
We had an EF-1 [intensity tornado] on Monday about 12 minutes from my house. From what I can tell [we had] about the usual warning. None.

Wednesday, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram published an article about the recent fatal, poorly-warned tornadoes in Texas. Some of the comments from National Weather Service officials were alarming:

Regarding the 4 fatality Matador Tornado, [NWS Lubbock's meteorologist-in-charge Mark] "Conder said it’s not clear that the radar itself gave much notice before the tornado formed."

As I wrote at the time, the radar was metaphorically shouting, Issue a tornado warning! Here is a radar image from the Lubbock radar (which is the NWS office responsible for warning the region that includes Matador), 
They also learned one minute after the above radar image that a meteorologist was broadcasting the tornado -- live. But they still did not issue a tornado warning for another six minutes! And, that was only after they received three additional reports of a tornado. 

With regard to the Perryton tornado, which caused three fatalities, the Star-Telegram wrote:
Visually? What about the $10 million radar in their backyard? As described here, the radar meteorologist was obviously inexperienced or didn't have the specialized training needed in this case. To illustrate that this was a warnable tornado, AccuWeather provided 20 minutes of warning to its client in Perryton. 

Even worse was their justification for not setting the radar to 80-second SAILS (I call it "tornado") mode:
Three people are dead from a tornado and they are worried about hail?!

The tornado warning cancer seemingly has spread across the entire National Weather Service. In many cases, their inability to interpret radar has caused them to regress to the pre-NEXRAD mode of primarily relying on spotter/chaser reports. That is incredibly dangerous to the public they are supposed to serve.

Have you written to your congresspeople yet?


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