Thursday, February 12, 2009

Tuesday 2/10/09 EF-1 Tornado Update - Springfield, MO

Tuesday's unwarned tornado was no ordinary tornado. Kevin Lighty, Chief Meteorologist at KSPR, put together a great blog article describing why this tornado was different, and the reason why the radar was unable to detect it, preventing The National Weather Service from issuing a warning. Ted Keller, Chief Meteorologist at KOLR10/Ozarks Fox Weather Labs, also put together a blog article explaining why this was difficult to detect.

For those out there doubting the system, let me just say this...Steve Runnels, Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the National Weather Service said it best. Last year there were 64 tornadoes in the County Warning Area that the Springfield NWS office is responsible for. This is double the annual norm. The average lead time was 19.5 minutes. 19.5 minutes is a good amount of time to prepare and take shelter, and Doppler Radar plays a big part in that.

Radar works, it just doesn't work to predict all types of tornadoes. This reiterates the importance of SkyWarn and other spotter type groups. Radar can't do it all, but it does a great job. Having ground truth information from storm spotters works in conjunction with radar data and is used by the NWS to provide warnings. This event was at night, so spotting would have been difficult to impossible, depending on the rain. This particular storm was not anticipated to have any severe attributes, so there was not focus put on it.

In the end, this goes to show the importance of paying attention to Watches. A Tornado Watch, which we were under on Tuesday evening, means conditions are favorable for the development of severe thunderstorms capable of producing tornadoes. There's a reason tornado watches are issued, as we found out Tuesday night.

The posted picture courtesy of Daniel Hirsch. 4300 block of S. Glenn.

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