age annually to homes, businesses, schools, and better warnings from significant advances in weather churches. Considered nature's most violent storms, technology made in the past 10 years and encourag- peak tornado activity occurs during the months of ing all Americans to be prepared for severe weather. March through early July. Following two years with high numbers of torna- NOAA forecasters and researchers from Norman, does, the year 2000 was relatively quiet. However, two Oklahoma, in the heart of tornado alley, marked the outbreaks illustrated the fact that tornadoes can hap- beginning of tornado season recently, highlighting pen anywhere at any time. On 13 February 2000, a tornado raged through Camilla, Georgia, causing 11 deaths. Six weeks later, a tornado struck Ft. Worth, Texas, killing five people on March 28. New technology developed by NOAA researchers has helped NWS forecasters provide significantly bet- Tornadoes of the Middle West ter warnings when tornadoes strike. However, warn- ings do not work if people do not heed them and take action to protect themselves and their property, said (Read before the American Meteoro- Mike Foster, meteorologist-in-charge of the NWS logical Society at Kansas City, Missouri, Forecast Office in Norman. December 1925.) Ten years ago, the NWS Forecast Office in Norman began the first operational test of the new Doppler Thi s meeting of the weather radar, called the WSR-88D, developed by AMS is the first ever held NOAA' s National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL), so near what is often des- also located in Norman. At that time, the NWS' s av- ignate d the "Tornado erage tornado warning lead time was six minutes. Belt" of the United States. Now, with radars installed throughout the country, Were this one of the ab- tornado warning lead times have nearly doubled, improv- normally warm, "sticky" ing to an average of 10 minutes in 2000. In fact, strong days that so often occur in and violent tornadoes rarely strike without warning. spring at Kansas City and vicinity and if, This spring, the Norman Forecast Office will again in addition, the weather map this morning test new radar technology being developed by NSSL, showed an area of low atmospheric pres- Foster said. The new dual-polarization radar uses two sure in the west or north, with pronounced pulses instead of one, providing more information for differences in temperature between areas a forecasters to better predict flash floods, hail, and win- few hundred miles southeast of here and ter weather. Polarimetric technology could be added those a few hundred to the northwest, there to the current WSR-88D Doppler weather radars used might be good reason for anxiously watch- by the NWS throughout the nation. ing any black clouds above the southwest "By combining new technology with experienced horizon. If this were an assembly of men forecasters and rigorous training programs, the NWS whose chief knowledge of tornadoes had expects to maintain its excellent tornado warning lead been gathered from highly sensational tim e average and continue decreasing the death newspaper accounts of "Kansas cyclones" tolls, " said Bill Proenza, director of the NWS and if the icy hand of winter had not tem- Southern Region. porarily banished the conditions that give rise to this most spectacular type of storm Cooler than Normal Winter in Much of United that strikes inland America, the majority States present might be excused for having a pan- The winter of 2000-01 was cooler than normal in icky feeling were the sky to become sud- the contiguous United States, NOAA scientists an- denly threatening. nounced recently. Using the world's largest database at NOAA' s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, North Carolina, the scientists calculated Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 7, 81. conditions for the meteorological winter, December through February. 1210 Vol. 82,, No. 6, June 2001
Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society – American Meteorological Society
Published: Jun 1, 2001
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