Tornado researcher Harold Brooks with the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman says the message that people in the path of a powerful tornado have to be underground to stay safe is wrong. Brooks says that messaging may even be irresponsible and dangerous.
This guest post comes from Dr. Harold Brooks, a Senior Scientist in the Forecast Research and Development Division at NOAA's National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Oklahoma, and an AMS Fellow. A thoughtful and useful contribution to the national discussion prompted by the most recent Moore tornado.
The National Weather Service has issued a Tornado Watch for most of Central and Eastern Oklahoma until 10 p.m.
The Storm Prediction Center in Norman warns there is a moderate risk of severe weather over much of eastern and central Oklahoma on Thursday.
“We have a very complex forecast again today,” says National Weather Service warning coordination meteorologist Rick Smith. “We do look into the atmosphere and see more ingredients in place today for supercells and tornadoes than what we saw yesterday.”
A Tornado Watch is in place for most of Oklahoma as a storm system is poised to make its way through the state.
Forecasters with the National Weather Service say it's important to be aware of the weather over the next three days, though it's not time to panic.
“It’s very difficult and very challenging striking a balance between freaking people and telling them what they need to be ready for,” says warning coordinating meteorologist Rick Smith with the National Weather Service’s Norman Forecast Office.
I downloaded a map from the National Weather Service and drove on Thursday afternoon to Newcastle. I found the quaint cul de sac where the tornado was born. No one expects an infant to grow into a terrorist. Likewise, looking at the humble beginnings of this tornado, I'd never have dreamed it would stomp across the metro area, smashing neighborhoods, killing 24 people, including seven children in one elementary school, and causing an estimated $2 billion in damages.
The National Weather Service says starting Tuesday evening Western and Central portions of the state could see more severe thunderstorms with the possibility of some tornadoes.
"Supercells with large hail and damaging winds are expected during the late afternoon and evening with storms likely forming into clusters or lines during the evening," says Rick Smith, a warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service's Norman Forecast Office. "The tornado potential is a little bit higher on Wednesday due to strong wind shear, but the hail and wind will still be the most common threats."
He says the focus will mainly be west of the Interstate 35 corridor on Wednesday, but could expand into Central Oklahoma the day after tomorrow.
One of the first reporters on the scene May 20 after a massive tornado struck the town of Moore, Okla., didn’t mean to be there. Joe Wertz, digital reporter for StateImpact Oklahoma, was trying to get home.
Wertz, working out of KGOU-FM on the campus of the University of Oklahoma in Norman, and other station employees heeded storm warnings May 20 by leaving work early. Wertz lives in Oklahoma City about 20 miles north of Norman, and hoped to beat the storm home.