Severe Weather Week: Storm Tracker

Published: Mar. 10, 2022 at 11:01 PM CST
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - First Alert 6 Chief Meteorologist Ken Johnson talked previously about how the News Channel 6 weather team can see severe weather just based on the radar alone. However, what happens if you can’t really tell what is going on underneath the clouds?

That is why storm chasing is so important, especially here in Texoma. Over the last year, we have had a bunch of big weather events. The Comanche Nation Entertainment First Alert Tracker has been there for all of it.

“Well it was a very interesting year Garrett,” Johnson said. “We started it off in February with a historic outbreak of cold weather. I think it was the second-coldest weather that we have ever seen in this part of the country. We had back-to-back snowstorms. Then, we fast forward over into the spring months, and I have a list of weather events I have covered in my life. One of the coolest weather events that I have covered was a tornado event we had in April.”

In Wilbarger County on April 23, 2021, five confirmed tornadoes touched down near the city of Lockett, TX. However, this wasn’t the only day Texoma saw a tornado in 2021.

“We had another big severe weather event over in the fall,” Johnson said. “We got out and it was nighttime tornadoes, and with the capabilities of the tracker and the quality of these cameras, we were able to show you wedge-shaped tornadoes in Oklahoma, southern Oklahoma.”

On Oct. 12, 2021 a massive EF-1 wedge tornado was confirmed in Tillman and traveled through Comanche County.

“So you were out in the tracker, and you kept telling me ‘hey we got this wall cloud.’ You can still see it, it’s still moving, it’s still really low, I remember seeing it,” Johnson said. “We had it on the monitors here in the studio, you could see it. You could see the wall cloud. While on radar it may have looked like it was trying to weaken some, the visual representation did not indicate that at all. It looked to me like it was if anything getting stronger. Sure enough, it wasn’t long after that, that the radar presentation improved and we were seeing funnels and eventually tornadoes on the ground.”

While there might be a tornado on the ground one minute, it could be gone in 30 seconds. So, having somebody out in the field to tell you, ‘hey, it has already lifted up, there is no danger now,’ is important.

However, on that October night, things were far from over.

“And the fact even the radar didn’t suggest it was that strong anymore, but the fact that I could see it in real-time and see the structure and know that it wasn’t actually weakening, it was recycling,” Johnson said. “That to me was what led us to believe that this event isn’t over but it is just getting started.”

Having the ability to see storm chase video and see the radar simultaneously is so valuable when covering severe weather.

“I can be looking at the radar and think that a storm looks like it is weakening or it looks like it is strengthening and by your storm chasing analysis, you are able to tell me and show me actually what it really looks like,” Johnson said. “So now not only are we seeing a bunch of colors on the radar, and that can be confusing in and of itself, but the viewers are now able to see the sky and see what is happening. The fact that you can continue to show that while around like I said is priceless.”


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