Technology advances more precise weather warnings

NEW CARLISLE, Ohio (WDTN) – After a slow start, severe weather season has arrived, and it made itself known quite unexpectedly.

Thursday night, Clark County received its first tornado warning of 2015, just one day shy of the 41st anniversary of the Xenia tornado.

A New Carlisle home suffered some damage from the severe weather, but it wasn’t a total loss.

“There’s a lot of clean up, much, much clean. But it’s, I mean, it’s more than that, you know, the barn door is across the street, described Andrea Bryant, the homeowners sister. “There’s a lot of damage here and a lot  of the  sticks that we’ve been pulling out the ground have been driven into it about 4 to 6 inches into the ground so we’re pulling them out. It’s a good thing nobody was outside when it came through for sure.

Bryant says her brother’s family was lucky that the damage was minimal.

Additionally, the warnings were there, though the show the Looper family tuned into did not carry it.

In 1974, meteorologist were unable to properly warn communities, like Xenia, about the dangers ahead.

Reflecting on that history, 2 NEWS’ Beairshelle Edmé is asking questions about the advancements in the technology behind weather warnings.

Advancements have made it easier for people to know when danger is near, but it wasn’t always that way as National Weather Service (NWS) Meteorologist Allen Randall explained.

“Where the meteorologist, let’s say even 20 years ago, was looking at a storm let’s say a hundred miles away and they’re up about 5,000 feet and the beam is spread out, and you know, we were sampling the storm,” Randall said. “Where now with these additional radars, now we’re seeing them real-time and we’re seeing them like 3– 400 feet above ground.”

In the 90s, Doppler radar allowed meteorologists to see more details, such as the motion or winds in the storm.

The evolution of radar allowed these scientist to evaluate supercells, which according to NWS are “highly organized storms characterized updrafts that can attain speeds over 100 miles per hour, able to produce extremely large hail and strong and/or violent tornadoes.”

The advanced technology would pinpoint whether a supercell was forming into a tornado.

And because the data is more reliable, over the last few decades weather authorities have issued more weather warnings, but also better ones.

However, sometimes issuing more warnings has backfires on meteorologists.

“If you cry wolf too many times people ignore them,” Storm Team 2 Chief Meteorologist Brian Davis noted.

Davis says that is why the storm team follows guidelines about when to issue an alert, and technology’s evolution helps with that.

“25 years ago we probably wouldn’t have even had a warning out on that possible tornado last night,” said Davis, a meteorologist of more than 3 decades. “We wouldn’t have seen the velocity data to let us know that.”

But in 21st century, the tools are here to help, and weather warnings are growing more and more precise every day.

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