Without warning: Why alerts didn't sound for the Warsaw tornado
WARSAW, Ind. -- The city of Warsaw is explaining why sirens didn't go off prior to the EF-1 tornado touchdown Monday evening.
In a Facebook post the city stated
So what does this all mean? First, there was no warning issued by the National Weather Service (NWS) and second, a tornado wasn't spotted by anyone until the moment it touched down.
Why wasn't there a warning? The tornado only lasted seven minutes. Of those seven minutes there were three radar scans, the first at 8:27 p.m. when it touched down, another at 8:30, and 8:33.
When you look back at the data, after knowing there was a tornado you can see where it was. However, there are many similar instances that a velocity signature like that doesn't mean there is a tornado.
The history of storms matter too. Up until 8:30 pm there were only two wind damage reports and two wind gust reports above 50 mph and zero tornado or funnel cloud reports. The wind gust at the near-by Warsaw Municipal Airport was only 35 mph.
Read the full National Weather Service of Northern Indiana storm recap from August 6th.
If a storm system had a history of funnel clouds and tornadoes or the atmospheric environment was more volatile, the NWS would be quicker to issue a warning. Given the information at the time they did the best they could do.
Spotting the signs of a tornado before it strikes is something we all, as meteorologists, hope to improve on and why ground reports are always so critical. However it is always a lesson to know the limitations of tornado detection and to be weather aware whenever storms are in your area.