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Community Comment

Tue., April 19, 2011, 5:11 p.m.

The twister explosion back east…

Good morning, Netizens...


Living in the Pacific Northwest, there are many who wonder at people who, after loading down their vehicles with an imponderable stack of highly-technical equipment, and taking their lives in their hands, go chasing severe storms in other areas of the country. A classic example of a reason why people do such things just struck in parts of North Carolina and other parts of the South where a record-setting number of tornadoes touched down over the weekend.


There was a time, years ago, when I regularly chased tornadoes. It was before the full development of NEXRAD Radar, when storm chasers didn't have hardly any of the modern-day gadgets that modern-day meteorologists routinely possess. We studied the clouds, and when the circumstances were right, we called local authorities notifying them of a potential tornado touchdown; it wasn't perfect but it was what we had. Even today, given the arsenals of electronics and meteorological software storm chasers sometimes miss storms that later generate tornadoes. In some instances storm chasers cause the sirens to blow but no funnel clouds ever form. It is an imperfect science to some degree.


In Sanford, North Carolina, a representative for a flattened Lowe's Hardware store admitted to various members of news agencies that they had heard the sirens blowing in the distance, notifying anyone within its range to take cover immediately and yet it wasn't until customers physically saw the tornado looming across the street before anyone took action. Fortunately, the Lowes store in question had a disaster plan and followed it. Despite the store being more or less flattened around them, no one inside the store was killed.


All the storm chasers in the world would not have made much difference to the folks in the store.


According to several severe weather warning centers, there were at least four storm chasers who had been following the progress of the particular storm front which spawned so many tornadoes in such a short period of time. In fact there were at least two different videos of the storm as it developed, each shot by storm chasers. Still, in other areas, people died, some of whom had no warning at all of impending severe weather.




There is obviously a great deal more education, awareness and advance notification that needs to be done before tornado warning system will work 100% of the time.



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Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.