We had a report of a tornado just outside our TV station's viewing area recently. It posed a dilemma on what to do.
First, the tornado was only indicated on dopplar radar... there was NO confirmation that it existed or that it was EVER on the ground.
Second, it was entirely outside our coverage area. If anyone in the adjoining county were watching our station, they would have to have been on a ridge top, and outside our normal distance for our TV signal. So everyone affected would not be watching our station.
Third, the storm cell was moving due east, and NOT entering our area.
So, do we break in and tell our viewers about this report from the National Weather Service office and panic some people, or do we continue to monitor the situation? Or, do we report it and alert people that the weather in the region was unstable and tornadoes were possible? Remember, there was only a Severe Thunderstorm Watch, and not a Tornado Watch for our area.
We decided to run crawls about the storm and monitor it's progress.
Recently, at a school visit, I was asked if I had ever been in a tornado, or if I wanted to be in one. Certainly not! Despite our fascination with Twister, (the popular movie that has come out several years ago, where everyone survives), tornadoes are dangerous, unpredictable threats. We don't like them. We want to avoid them.
And by coincidence, this weekend I have seen two airings of an outstanding NOVA science TV show that reports the current state of the art in tornado prediction, tracking and observation. If you are a serious student of tornadoes and violent storm development, I highly recommend this show. It will answer most of your questions, and inspire others as well.
And that's the SAFE way to experience a tornado.
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