Tornado Research: The Past, Present, and Future

One of the most awe-inspiring parts of meteorology is storms. People are fascinated by them. People fear them (and rightfully so). People want to know more about them. The possibility of tornadic storms always lights up social media and places the public on alert. As I reflect on tornadoes, there is so much progress that has been made. We have mobile Doppler radar systems, dual-polarization upgrades, higher-resolution models, and increased knowledge of the processes associated with these violent storms.

At the same time, there is much that we do not know as well. The lead times are still in the 13 to 20 minute range. Some storms produce tornadoes, other similar storms do not. Even when meteorologists provide sufficient warning, people still die. What are the social science and communication issues behind what I call “good warning, bad decisions.”

On a new episode of Weather Geeks, we engage in the second part of discussion on tornadoes, Dr. Victor Gensini (College of Dupage but soon to be at Northern Illinois University) and Dr. Walker Ashley (Northern Illinois University) talk about the past, present, and future of tornado research. They both publish in the scientific literature and chase storms so it was the perfect opportunity to have a good discussion (or debate) about what science is telling us about tornadoes and where we need to go from here. You know the conversation is good when we use the “standing” configuration of the Weather Geek set. Watch and you will see what I am talking about.

If you love or are fascinated by tornadic storms, The Weather Channel show Weather Geeks is for you this week. The show always airs Noon ET (11 am CT, 10 am MT, 9 am PT).

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