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The 3 April 2012 Tornado Outbreak: An Analysis of the North Texas Integrated Warning Team Mark Fox Warning & Coordination Meteorologist NWS Fort Worth.

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Presentation on theme: "The 3 April 2012 Tornado Outbreak: An Analysis of the North Texas Integrated Warning Team Mark Fox Warning & Coordination Meteorologist NWS Fort Worth."— Presentation transcript:

1 The 3 April 2012 Tornado Outbreak: An Analysis of the North Texas Integrated Warning Team Mark Fox Warning & Coordination Meteorologist NWS Fort Worth / Dallas NWS Fort Worth / Dallas Lancaster, TX tornado. Credit: Dallas Morning News.

2 Outline Public Response April 3 Overview Timeline Findings

3 20 Tornadoes 1 EF – 3 2 EF – 2 0 Fatalities 29 injuries $ 800 Million in Damages

4 Why? 4 significant tornadoes in a highly populated area The Integrated Warning Team Saved Lives Use this as an opportunity to find why and how No Deaths!!!!! No Assessment

5 Wish it was… Warning Issued Warning Received Action Taken Just under half (47%) would take cover immediately Around 1 in 4 people require confirmation More Like…

6 Public Response 115 people across Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex surveyed – 79 recalled events of 3 April 2012 Random digit dial method – 50% land line numbers, 50% cell phone

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8 Event Summary

9 City center of Lancaster Dense residential and commercial Open farmland few homes I-35E High Traffic area. I-45 and I-20 intersection

10 Kennedale & Arlington Dense residential area. US. 287 & I-20 Open farmland quickly gives way to residential

11 Subdivision quickly gives way to farmland City center of Forney

12 12:30 PM CDT 1:30 PM CDT 2:30 PM CDT 3:30 PM CDT 4:30 PM CDT Tornado Warning: Johnson County (Joshua) 12:45 PM Tornado Emergency: Dallas County (Lancaster) 1:17 PM Tornado Emergency: Dallas County (Lancaster) 1:26 PM Tornado Emergency: Tarrant County (Arlington/Pantego) 1:26 PM Tornado Emergency: Dallas County (Lancaster) 1:34 PM Tornado Emergency: Dallas County (Lancaster) 1:34 PM Tornado Emergency: Dallas County (Mesquite/Garland) 2:02 PM Tornado Emergency: Hunt County (Greenville) 4:27 PM Live footage of tractor trailers being damaged 1:33 PM Photo: WFAA-TV Tractor trailer footage replayed 2:29 PM Tractor trailer footage replayed 3:02 PM Photo: Dallas Examiner Spotters report increasing west of Forney Tornado Warning: Kaufman County (Forney) 3:25 PM Broadcast media relays reports of increasing tornado threat for Kaufman County (Forney) 3:27 PM Tornado confirmed in Forney (Kaufman County) 3:33 PM

13 Tornado Emergency – IWT Communications Storm spotters and media coverage drive the decision to issue a tornado emergency by the NWS Tornado Emergency language used to raise awareness of the threat of a large, damaging tornado in a populated area The use of “tornado emergency in text products is difficult to notice, chatting about it elicited a much faster response from local area media Emergency were largely unaffected by “tornado emergency” language Most important outcome: Everyone was delivering the same message at the same time… “this is a significant threat, and you need to take action now”

14 TimeActionStation 1Station 2Station 3Station 4Average 1:16 PMTornado Emergency Issued – Dallas :20 PMChat about Tornado Emergency – Dallas1000Immediate 1:25 PM Chat about Tornado Emergency about to be issued - Tarrant 1000Immediate 1:26 PMTornado Emergency Issued – Tarrant0 Immediate 1:26 PMTornado Emergency Issued – DallasNever Never* 1:33 PMTornado Emergency SVS – Tarrant53Never22.5** 1:34 PMTornado Emergency SVS – DallasNever Never* 1:35 PMChat about Tornado Emergency – Tarrant1Never2N/A1.5*** 2:02 PMChat about new Tornado Emergency – Dallas79NeverN/A8*** 2:02 PMTornado Emergency Issued – Dallas79NeverN/A8*** 3:38 PM Chat about a Tornado Confirmed in Forney (no emergency) :26 PMChat about new Tornado Emergency – Hunt :27 PMTornado Emergency Issued – Hunt0000Immediate

15 Search and Rescue with new line of storms moving into western Tarrant County, there will be a threat of frequent lightning and gusty winds. This may hamper search and rescue efforts in Tarrant County Station 3 coverage: The squall line will hamper search and rescue efforts Station 3 coverage: NWS concerned about storms impacting search and rescue operations 2:00 PM 2:03 PM 2:17 PM 3:29 PM Station 1 coverage: Possible tornado in Arlington… may impact damage efforts 2:46 PM Station 3 coverage: NWS states approaching line of storms will complicate search and rescue efforts Photo: Tony Gutierrez, Associated Press

16 Forney Damage Reports 3:38 PM 3:39 PM 3:40 PM 3:41 PM 3:42 PM 3:43 PM 3:44 PM 3:45 PM 3:46 PM 3:47 PM 3:48 PM

17 Forney Damage Reports 3:38 PM 3:39 PM 3:40 PM 3:41 PM 3:42 PM 3:43 PM 3:44 PM 3:45 PM 3:46 PM 3:47 PM 3:48 PM FWD continues Tornado Warning for Dallas, Kaufman, Rockwall [TX] till 4:00 PM CDT Station 1 provides report of tornado in Forney Station 2 concerned about a tornado in Forney Station 3 identifies “debris cloud" seen on radar over Forney Spotter reports tornado went through center of Forney Station 4: "I don't think we have a tornado on the ground (near Forney), because we've had no confirmation in chat from the NWS at this time” Forney PD/FD: Officer advises that there is a tornado down town Tornado reported in Forney! What county is FORNEY in? Kaufman

18 Forney Damage Reports 3:38 PM 3:39 PM 3:40 PM 3:41 PM 3:42 PM 3:43 PM 3:44 PM 3:45 PM 3:46 PM 3:47 PM 3:48 PM Station 1 spotter shows video of "well-defined stovepipe tornado" in Forney Says Forney High School has been hit Meteorologist reports Forney is a tornado emergency Station 2 shows text on screen: “Tornado on ground in Forney” Schools are in tornado’s path Station 3 reports tornado north of Forney doing damage Station 4 asks for chat updates Meteorologist says NWS is becoming very concerned about a tornado in Forney Forney PD/FD: Officer advises that there is a lot of tree damage Forney PD/FD: Tornado over Fire Station at Elm and 80

19 Forney Damage Reports 3:38 PM 3:39 PM 3:40 PM 3:41 PM 3:42 PM 3:43 PM 3:44 PM 3:45 PM 3:46 PM 3:47 PM 3:48 PM Local Storm Report: Tornado on ground just west of Wal Mart in Forney Station 3 Coverage: Debris ball has gotten bigger; funnel getting larger- “fairly good size”

20 Forney Damage Reports 3:38 PM 3:39 PM 3:40 PM 3:41 PM 3:42 PM 3:43 PM 3:44 PM 3:45 PM 3:46 PM 3:47 PM 3:48 PM NWS updates Rockwall EM on Forney tornado Station 3 Coverage: Spotter confirms power flashes, tornado is still on ground Forney PD/FD: Officer advises Ridgecrest on the ground cone tor near forney stand by for more.. i have visual

21 Forney Damage Reports 3:38 PM 3:39 PM 3:40 PM 3:41 PM 3:42 PM 3:43 PM 3:44 PM 3:45 PM 3:46 PM 3:47 PM 3:48 PM Station 1 spotter corrects himself, tornado "hasn't hit high school yet", but “is going to” Station 2 covers debris in the Forney area. Station 4 reports of a confirmed tornado in Forney FWD: Unverified/Non-NWS Report -- Large cone tornado 5 to SW of Forney Forney PD/FD: Tornado still in the Diamond Creek area

22 Forney Damage Reports 3:38 PM 3:39 PM 3:40 PM 3:41 PM 3:42 PM 3:43 PM 3:44 PM 3:45 PM 3:46 PM 3:47 PM 3:48 PM FWD continues Tornado Warning for Kaufman, Rockwall [TX] till 4:00 PM CDT Forney PD/FD: County EMC notified of tornado down and damage Station 1 reports Forney High School has not been hit, storm appears to be moving farther north Station 2 reports damage at Forney HS per spotter Station 3 covers "tornado on the ground near Forney“ Station 4 spotter on FM 548 says he is viewing a tornado near Forney High School Chaser on 548, tornado near Forney High School Thanks Station 1 Forney PD/FD: Heading toward Crosby Elementary

23 Forney Damage Reports 3:38 PM 3:39 PM 3:40 PM 3:41 PM 3:42 PM 3:43 PM 3:44 PM 3:45 PM 3:46 PM 3:47 PM 3:48 PM Station 3 Coverage: spotter reports tornado went through Diamond Creek subdivision; new wall cloud… storm may be cycling Forney PD/FD: Officer asks to call in everyone off duty Forney PD/FD: Officer advises Major Damage

24 Forney Damage Reports 3:38 PM 3:39 PM 3:40 PM 3:41 PM 3:42 PM 3:43 PM 3:44 PM 3:45 PM 3:46 PM 3:47 PM 3:48 PM Station 1 reports Crosby Elementary has been hit (Diamond Creek subdivision) Station 2 states damage is near FHS, but does not have confirmation Station 3 spotter states tornado did roof damage to Crosby Elementary TOR has lifted ATTM Thanks Forney PD/FD: Injured Baby Forney PD/FD: Officer advises that N. Elm & Dalbac building & trees across Elm and minor damage to house on Elm

25 Forney Damage Reports 3:38 PM 3:39 PM 3:40 PM 3:41 PM 3:42 PM 3:43 PM 3:44 PM 3:45 PM 3:46 PM 3:47 PM 3:48 PM Station 3 spotter reports cars overturned at Crosby Elementary Do we have confirmation the high school was hit/ ? Forney PD/FD: Terrell FD has been notified to respond on mutual aid Forney PD/FD: Officer checking on Crosby Elementary Forney PD/FD: Damage reports continue to come in and logged

26 Forney Damage Reports 3:38 PM 3:39 PM 3:40 PM 3:41 PM 3:42 PM 3:43 PM 3:44 PM 3:45 PM 3:46 PM 3:47 PM 3:48 PM Station 2 talking about storm, mentions the storm that did hit Forney, and did hit FHS. Station 4 shows live spotter video of tornado damage in a subdivision in Forney Storm Chaser reports Crosby Elementry in Forney hit Your spotter? any damage?

27 Forney Damage Reports 3:38 PM 3:39 PM 3:40 PM 3:41 PM 3:42 PM 3:43 PM 3:44 PM 3:45 PM 3:46 PM 3:47 PM 3:48 PM Station 2 states off camera Crosby elementary school reportedly hit Station 3 has no new reports from NWSChat (Station 3 believes NWS is watching their coverage)… tornado actively moving northward high school or elementary? Going to extend the tornado warning from Kaufamn/Rockwall into Collin/Hunt. Damage homes seen live on TV in Forney elementary

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29 Information Needs - Media Have access to radar data and usually their own storm spotters (in DFW market) Rely on FREQUENT chat updates from the NWS regarding: o Warning decision updates o Spotter reports that come into NWS o Radar observations (what is the most dangerous storm or part of the storm now) o Short term forecast updates (expected changes in storm behavior, hazards Why? o Broadcast meteorologists are on the air constantly, they need the latest information to avoid repetition o If the NWS can be relied upon to provide useful, frequent updates, it gives the NWS a chance to influence which storms are being covered by the media and when… consistency of message!

30 Information Needs – Emergency Managers Have access to radar data and usually their own storm spotters Primarily concerned about IMPACTS of hazardous weather in their individual jurisdiction What is the worst case scenario? If damage has occurred, could additional storms/weather hamper response efforts?

31 Information Needs – NWS Have access to radar data and other real-time remote sensing technologies Needs ground truth reports to issue effective warnings: o Can monitor local media visually, but too much noise for audio monitoring during a severe weather event o Amateur radio operators communicate with organized county spotter groups o Direct contact with city and county officials

32 Best Practices by the NWS 1. Maintaining a consistent, reliable presence in chat drives a consistent warning message.

33 Findings Zero Deaths – Good Warnings – Daytime – Video Integrated Warning Team Worked – One Voice to all* – Multiple jurisdictions saying the same thing NWSChat – Glue that held it all together – FWD Watched Media…but can’t hear media

34 THANKS Mark Fox NWS Fort Worth / Dallas x 223


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