Monday, October 16, 2023

NWS Tornado Warning Problems Continue

The National Weather Service continues to have problems issuing timely, accurate tornado warnings. The latest example comes from Florida, specifically the Tampa-St. Petersburg metro area in the early pre-dawn hours of Thursday. 

I saw this tweet Friday afternoon. I had issued my own version of tornado warnings on that supercell thunderstorm but had assumed it had not produced a tornado. Obviously, it had. 

At 12:03am EDT, I notified readers that the tornado potential in west central Florida was rapidly increasing. There was no tornado watch at the time and no tornado warnings were in effect.
At 12:06pm, since I reserve the terms "watch" and "warning" to the NWS so there will not be confusion with their warnings, I issued my version of a tornado warning. It was a straightforward situation with a hook echo and strong rotation in the Doppler data (not shown). Not the arrow points toward Oldsmar, where the photo at the top was taken. 
The time below the graphics is Central time.
The National Weather Service officially issued its tornado warning at 12:15am but it didn't post to Twitter until one minute later. By this time, the tornado was passing Oldsmar. 

This is what I posted one minute later. 

There was no tornado watch or warning for the Oldsmar, Florida area when the tornado struck Thursday morning. Fortunately, in this case, there were no injuries. But, this could have been a very different outcome as tornadoes are especially deadly at night. 

I urge the National Weather Service to reexamine its tornado warning system and make immediate improvements before more lives are lost. 

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