Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Here is the Fox 4 Report on Issues With the National Weather Service's Tornado Warning Program

Ken Graham, Director of the NWS, interviewed
by Fox 4 Kansas City
Reporter Linda Wagar's story with my interview is here. She came to Wichita and spent two hours interviewing me. She did a fine job with her report. As she pointed out, my goal is not to gratuitously criticize the National Weather Service (NWS) but to help fix a worsening problem. 

When Linda's report ended, Fox 4 gave their evening meteorologist, Joe Lauria, a platform to speak about my report. Unfortunately, he was not well-informed as to my findings. Because these are life-and-death issues, I wish to provide more information. 

  • None of tornadoes I cited were "one minute spin-ups." They were overwhelmingly "supercell" tornadoes -- the most dangerous type. Four of the 14 tornadoes were fatal. Most were EF-2, EF-3, and one was an upper-end EF-3 that was close to EF-4 intensity. People are dying as a result of these warning issues. 
  • If, as Joe said, there were 21 tornado warnings and just 2 tornadoes in the Fox 4 viewing area last year, doesn't that say there is a huge problem with NWS warnings? The false alarm rate was a staggering 90%.
  • If Joe and his team has to get up --"numerous times" (his words) -- and say "go to your safe area!" when there is no NWS tornado warning, doesn't that indicate a problem?
  • I have had multiple NWS people call me, from different parts of the nation, insist on anonymity, and then tell me that it is not true that trainee meteorologists have an experienced meteorologist sitting next to them during tornado situations. I wouldn't have expressed that concern without evidence to back it up.
  • As to my National Disaster Review Board (NDRB) proposal, it is hardly shocking the NWS doesn't see the need -- they don't want independent accountability! Do we really think it is a good idea for federal agencies to investigate themselves? 
  • There have been two weather-related natural disasters that have killed 80+ since 2015*. After the 2018 Camp Fire in California where 88 perished, the NWS's issued a report that is at the blue link. Open it and you'll find the list of investigators:
(WFO = weather forecast office, MIC = meteorologist-in-charge, SOO = science operations officer) Every one of them is an NWS employee. They are all from the western United States, and likely colleagues of the people who issued the forecasts pertaining to the fire. How critical would you expect their report to be? 

With regard to tornadoes, let's look at the 2021 tornado outbreak which killed 89 people. Below is the NWS investigation's cover:

And, who were the investigators? Exclusively, 11 NWS employees from the same area of the nation as the meteorologists who issued the forecasts and warnings of that night's storms.
The report fails to mention the highly unfortunate false alarm for Mayfield, KY earlier in the day, which likely contributed to the high death toll when the actual EF-4 tornado arrived four hours later. 

You can go through the entire list of the reports and you will not find any private sector meteorologists among the "investigators" -- those composing the recommendations and writing the reports. Rarely will you find government employees outside the NWS, or its parent agency, NOAA; and those few are all government employees. The NWS investigating itself is not acceptable: The report on the NWS's performance pertaining to the 2011 Joplin Tornado led to many incorrect conclusions. It was that and the NWS's shameful behavior pertaining to the 2012 Hurricane Sandy review that led me to call for a NDRB

I hope you will click on the red link above, watch the report and make up your own mind. Thanks again to Fox 4 for the interview and their attention to this important issue. 

*I do not know whether the NWS is investigating its performance as to this past August's Maui Fire which killed 100+.

No comments:

Post a Comment