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 Post subject: Joplin tornado assessment report
PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2011 1:57 pm 
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http://www.weather.gov/os/assessments/pdfs/Joplin_tornado.pdf

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 Post subject: Re: Joplin tornado assessment report
PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2011 3:03 pm 
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No matter how many improvements are made to the warnings or the system that delivers said warnings, you can only help those who are willing to be helped. Complacency is deadly - unless everyone comes to understand that, there will always be loss of life in these situations, sadly.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2011 9:28 pm 
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In this case, the circumstances made it very difficult to avoid a horrible tragedy.

My opinions on the findings:

1) While there may have been people that did stupid things and lost their lives, few of the deaths were in mobile homes or vehicles. That just gives a sense of its power. In addition, it took only a few minutes for the tornado to go from formation to a catastrophic monster, so early warning could not have helped much (unlike, say, Greensburg). Even the best warning response, given the circumstances, would not have helped. So this really doesn't apply here. The people and the NWS cannot be blamed here.

2) Sounds fairly reasonable. However, reaction time would be an issue here, since it touched down at 5:34 and became a monster by 5:38. So the individual warning texts seemed reasonable based on 5:30ish details. The later warning at 5:48 was well-worded (although the 5:42 update could have used stronger wording), but too late in both cases, and an earlier warning was impossible.

3) It would have been of little help here, but in many other cases (think the 4/27 report coming late fall), it might come into play.

4) Agreed the warnings need to be clearer and better communications is necessary, although again it would have been of little help here.

5) Inter-office communication definitely needs to be improved. That has proven to be a huge issue in the past.

6) Not that it would matter here, but rules need to be followed and clear.

7) Seems that NWS Springfield did a good job considering and that the rules were followed. The SPC forecasts were reasonable (a High Risk was probably not necessary since the threat was not widespread enough, and a PDS watch would have been of little benefit in this case and would have barely verified).

8) While strong wording was issued, a Tornado Emergency with extreme wording could have definitely been used at 5:42 and 5:48 on surface observations and afterward. It would have been too late for Joplin though, and there was no way such would have been justifiable on any warnings before then when the tornado was not yet on the ground. The 5:39 wording could not have had it since it was based on weak damage without a clear scan.

9 and 10) Probably the most important points. Radar scans update every few minutes, and that made the critical difference. If a scan was available from, say, 5:36, it would have been extremely helpful - but even then they would only have seconds to react. The scans available were at 5:34 - weak tornado touchdown with radar not suggesting anything more than an EF1 or so, and 5:43 - catastrophic EF5 tornado on the ground and radar-proven. Huge difference.

In conclusion, the report does make a lot of valid points - just even the best practices possible would have had resulted in an extremely short reaction time possible, like less than 1 or 2 minutes. With the data available, it was virtually impossible to issue the warranted warnings and statements necessary in time. It may have helped for southeast Joplin, but certainly not in the hospital area.


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 Post subject: Re: Joplin tornado assessment report
PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 1:03 pm 
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Good conclusions/responses to the report. Unfortunately you cannot force people to react to these situations in the best way possible due to perceptions?(good or bad)of past events. If stronger wording had been used maybe some lives would have been saved, but I really don't think it would have made a big difference. Unfortunately Joplin, like most cities in this country does not have "community shelters" available to those caught out in the weather situations such as this. Is this something that needs to be addressed in some way in Joplin and other cities? Maybe, but who is going to fund these, operate these,...the questions are almost endless? Really a tough situation, especially the Joplin tornado, and I agree there is no one to place blame on.

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 Post subject: Re: Joplin tornado assessment report
PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2011 7:24 pm 
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vbhoutex wrote:
Good conclusions/responses to the report. Unfortunately you cannot force people to react to these situations in the best way possible due to perceptions?(good or bad)of past events. If stronger wording had been used maybe some lives would have been saved, but I really don't think it would have made a big difference. Unfortunately Joplin, like most cities in this country does not have "community shelters" available to those caught out in the weather situations such as this. Is this something that needs to be addressed in some way in Joplin and other cities? Maybe, but who is going to fund these, operate these,...the questions are almost endless? Really a tough situation, especially the Joplin tornado, and I agree there is no one to place blame on.


Would that have mattered in a quick-spinner though? Even if such existed, they would not have time to go to such.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2011 7:50 pm 
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I noticed the mention of the quicker radar scan profile. Considering during tornadoes outbreaks that the higher angle scans don't have as much importance, it would be a good idea to have a profile to do a 0.5 deg scan every minute or two.

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 Post subject: Re: Joplin tornado assessment report
PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2011 2:13 am 
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To be honest, I think the Joplin tornado was a "nightmare scenario" tornado. In other words, I don't think much could've been done to avoid the large loss of life.


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 Post subject: Re: Joplin tornado assessment report
PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2011 8:05 pm 
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HurricaneBill wrote:
To be honest, I think the Joplin tornado was a "nightmare scenario" tornado. In other words, I don't think much could've been done to avoid the large loss of life.


I agree. There's always room for improvements, even if it saved just one life. You need to be as well prepared as possible and hope for the best. Sometimes it's just not going to be enough.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2011 9:47 pm 
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I noticed the mention of the quicker radar scan profile. Considering during tornadoes outbreaks that the higher angle scans don't have as much importance, it would be a good idea to have a profile to do a 0.5 deg scan every minute or two.







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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2011 9:36 am 
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Here is my question...why don't we have dual radars? One radar ontop of another (inside the same dome). They wouldn't interfere with each other, if you put them on different signals or wavelengths, right? The bottom one can be set to do the lower scans (~0.5 to 2.5) and the second the upper level scans. That would decrease time between scans a lot, and allow one radar to focus on the tornado producing areas, while the other focuses on the hail/precip areas.


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