All week long it looked like we’d have some serious thunderstorms this weekend – and they have arrived. I just got an email from a viewer in Plainville mentioning hail. We have had at least a half dozen Severe Thunderstorm Warnings through the state, with another one coming in a few moments ago for the Hartford area (north of me).
If you’ve never seen one, they can be a bit sobering. I’ve added some emphasis to the operative text.
BULLETIN – EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TAUNTON MA
815 PM EDT SUN MAY 23 2004
THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN TAUNTON HAS ISSUED A
* SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING FOR…
SOUTHERN HARTFORD COUNTY IN NORTHERN CONNECTICUT
THIS INCLUDES THE CITIES OF…WEST HARTFORD…NEWINGTON…NEW
* UNTIL 900 PM EDT
* AT 811 PM EDT…NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM. THIS STORM WAS LOCATED 7 MILES NORTHWEST OF BURLINGTON…OR ABOUT NEAR TORRINGTON…AND MOVING SOUTHEAST AT 20 MPH.
* THE SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WILL BE NEAR…
BURLINGTON AND CANTON BY 830 PM EDT
AVON BY 840 PM EDT
FARMINGTON BY 850 PM EDT
WEST HARTFORD BY 855 PM EDT
NEW BRITAIN AND NEWINGTON BY 900 PM EDT
IN ADDITION TO LARGE HAIL AND DAMAGING WINDS…FREQUENT CLOUD TO
GROUND LIGHTNING IS OCCURRING WITH THIS STORM. MOVE INDOORS
IMMEDIATELY! LIGHTNING IS ONE OF NATURES NUMBER ONE KILLERS.
REMEMBER…IF YOU CAN HEAR THUNDER…YOU ARE CLOSE ENOUGH TO BE STRUCK BY LIGHTNING.
LAT…LON 4195 7308 4180 7321 4153 7274 4174 7255
Over the years I have had issues with some of these. By and large the Weather Service does a good job. Unfortunately severe weather warnings take a great deal of coordination to be effective, and that’s often lacking since there may be multiple areas of concern simultaneously.
In a perfect world we’d go from a “watch” to a “warning.” The “watch is a longer fused condition and allows people time to think about what’s coming. As far as I can see, there was no watch issued today before our warnings.
I’ve had discussions with friends about this. The consensus opinion is, the Storm Prediction Center (which issues only the watches) uses criteria that are more sensitive to the severe weather that occurs in the Midwest. Once a system has already gotten strong, they are not anxious to issue the watch. On the other hand, the local Weather Service Offices are more responsive to what’s on the radar and better at issuing warnings.
My job (in my opinion) is to get out ahead of the watches and warnings. I always give the watches and warnings as soon as I can, but often temper or modify them based on my knowledge. Often I’ll tell people the worry is over, even though the watch or warning is still in effect.
There are people who do what I do, probably most of them, who love severe weather. Some seem to live for it. There’s no doubt it’s exciting, and humbling, but how can you be rooting for something that can injure, destroy and even kill?
One of the most difficult things I do is pass along Tornado Warnings. For me, it is the most difficult part of being on TV. I know when I say a tornado might be on the ground that I am scaring the living daylights (or whatever more powerful word you’d like to use) out of a significant portion of my audience. When I start going through the steps you should take, should you be in the path, that only reinforces the magnitude of the danger.
Again, some people hope for these events to happen. I don’t get it.