National Weather Center Colloquium
Tornado Warnings: Past, Present, and Future
School of Meteorology
National Severe Storms Laboratory
24 April 2012, 3:30 PM
National Weather Center, Room 1350
120 David L. Boren Blvd.
University of Oklahoma
2011 saw a record number of tornado fatalities for the modern era (1980-present), even though NWS warning performance was considered excellent by most current measures of service. This leads to the question, "If warning performance was 'good' by current metrics, what happened last year?" This question was at the heart of the NWS' Weather Ready Nation initiative, which seeks to understand why so many people perished. In addition to the Weather Ready Nation initiative, NWS Central Region is undertaking a pilot program to study the feasibility of issuing impact based warnings.
This talk stems from my personal observations and discussions held during the first Weather Ready Nation meeting, focusing on the role of the NWS' Tornado Warning product and its place in the warning process. Trends in tornado warnings, and the increasingly popular tornado emergency, will be presented in the context of how to measure service. Discussion will focus on the questions "Is the current tornado warning process the best it can be?" and "How do we measure 'service'?".
It is my belief that the meteorological community stands on a precipice regarding the future of tornado warnings, and a community dialog is needed before embarking on initiatives that we won't be able to undo. The purpose of this talk is to start a community dialog and stimulate discussion on moving forward. Definitive answers to questions raised will not be provided --- they may not exist.