National Weather Service adding new element to severe weather wa - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

National Weather Service adding new element to severe weather warnings


The National Weather Service is adding a new element to severe weather warnings starting April 1.

"The impact based warning experiment will give our forecasters a chance to explain how severe a storm is," Lead Warning Coordination Meteorologist Jeff Last told Newsline 9.

Last works with the National Weather Service in Green Bay.  That's the office that issues weather alerts for the majority of the Newsline 9 viewing area.

Last says his bureau is joining 37 other offices in the central United States with the experimental addition of customized information on the potential strength with each severe weather warning between April 1 and November 30.   

"The warnings will give emergency managers more information so when they do sound the outdoor sirens for example or when the public hears a warning, they'll get more information on how significant that thunderstorm is," Last said. 

Meteorologists with the National Weather Service say the goal of the experiment is to better communicate their analysis of severe thunderstorms based on what Doppler radar units detect.  In a state like Wisconsin, no stranger to severe weather, that could prove very important.  

"It's hard to believe we average over 20 tornadoes a year," Last said.

Especially compared to last year when only four tornadoes were confirmed to have touched down in Wisconsin.  That's a stark contrast to the 38 twisters recorded in 2011 and 60 tornado touchdowns in 2005. 

Last says the severe weather season of 2011 was particularly important in implementing the impact based warning experiment.  That year saw hundreds of severe weather-related fatalities nationwide. 

"People heard the warnings, heard the sirens, but they didn't react how we would have liked them to react," Last said.

But with specifics now included, meteorologists with the National Weather Service hope the strength of severe events is better communicated, keeping us all much safer. 

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