New research could improve tornado warnings

NORMAN. OK (KAUZ) - Last week President Donald Trump signed the Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2017 into public law.

The bill proposed the United States Weather Industry to improve warning times for tornadoes and other natural hazards.

Research scientist like Chris Karstens with University of Oklahoma cooperative institutes for mesoscale meteorological studies has been working with The National Severe Storms Laboratory on FACETs, Forecasting a Continuum of Environmental Threats on this for about five years now.

Karsten is working specifically on Probabilistic Hazard Information which breaks down which weather threat is specifically approaching an area.

"Our project really is designed to bring about a new kind of warning paradigm for the National Weather Service," Karstens said.

FACETs are the proposed next generation severe weather forecasting concept. Tornado warnings shaped as polygons may soon be a way of the past.

"Right now forecasters have to draw warnings and they basically say you're in or you're out," Karstens said.

He said they are working to change that by focusing on probabilistic hazard information.

"What we hope is that could lead to longer lead times especially for the high impact hazards like tornadoes and doing so, in a manor that gets you information that is sub-severe, below what constitutes warning criteria," Karstens said.

The warnings will be based on a smaller grid and show high impact areas in the brighter pink and purple colors. Giving more detail to the polygons you are used to during severe weather coverage.

"With the forecaster's ability to convey their confidence, not just saying you are in a warning or you're not in a warning having that confidence component that what we hope is that longer lead times especially for the high impact hazards like tornadoes," Karstens said.

Items will be able to tell the difference between the path of large hail, or the tornadoes at the same time. This research will give more precise information on the timing and severity of all impacts, wind, hail, rain, and tornadoes.

Both the national weather service and the government want to continue to improve weather forecasting. We received this statement from House Science Committee Vice Chairman Frank Lucas from Oklahoma who sponsored H.R. 353.

"The president signing the Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act marks a significant shift toward the improvement of our country's ability to forecast major storms and tornadoes," Rep. Lucas said. "This legislation packs in multiple efforts to protect lives and property from severe weather because Americans deserve nothing less than the most accurate and timely weather predictions. By encouraging new technologies both outside and inside of NOAA, we can put our country back on track to be a world leader in weather forecasting. I thank my colleagues in Congress and the president for taking action to implement these life-saving policies."

"Being located in central Oklahoma obviously we get impacted by some of these events, so not only do I develop it in hopes that it will provide value, I get to actually try it out myself in real time and see how it performs. For me, I have already found that it helps me. I am hopeful that it would do the dame for other people," Karstens said.

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