A New Forecasting Tool Helps Get A Handle on Tornadoes

Scott Peake/severestudios.com

This framegrab shows a close-up shot of the tornado that hit the town of Pilger, Nebraska Monday, June 16, 2014.

Tools

by Michael Schlesinger

(Milwaukee)--What a week it's been with tornadoes in the Badger state.
The updated tornado tally from the National Weather Service in Sullivan reveals nine hit the state with four of those from Dane County alone.

But some good news, perhaps. Meteorologists say a new tool in their arsenal of severe weather forecasting really helped them get out the warnings before the tornadoes actually struck.

This is a real confidence booster for the forecasters, and it's all because of a $250 thousand upgrade to the Doppler radar we first told you about in 2012 called Dual Polarization, or Dual Pole. So now, beside detecting precipitation or wind speeds, the scientists can actually see debris from the tornado itself.

This week's severe weather outbreak is the first true test of the radar's new function. Those we spoke with say they couldn't be any happier with the results.

More than 20 years ago, prior to Doppler radar days, there was little if any warning time. Now there's at least 20 minutes. And with pinpoint accuracy, you can see where weaker tornadoes are coming out of the sky. Perhaps some you would have missed just a few years ago.
This becomes a real nugget of valuable information for those forecasting the bad weather, and the public relying on it.

The Weather Service soon hopes to use military technology to create a radar even more efficient and effective than the Doppler used now.
No word on when this could be online.

Poll

Should America lower the legal age to consume alcohol from 21 to 18?

  • Yes
  • No