A tornadic thunderstorm passed across Topeka this evening bringing considerable hail and a small amount of wind damage. The tornado touched down northeast of the city.
|Funnel cloud over Topeka. Photo by Taylor Buckley.|
|Large hail in Topeka. Photo by Taylor Buckley.|
Now, look at the lower right-hand side of the photo. Lawrence is clearly outside of the tornado warning polygon. Yet, the tornado sirens in Lawrence were blaring with people going about their business. Why? Because the tornado warning clipped the northwest edge of Douglas Co. and, like most jurisdictions with sirens, they are sounded on an “all or nothing basis.”
|Sky in downtown Lawrence minutes before the sirens were sounded.|
The “all or nothing” approach was reasonable in the ’50s and ’60s in the early stages of the tornado warning program because we genuinely were that imprecise in our warnings (i.e., warning entire counties and cities).
But now, meteorology can provide accurate warning of the path of tornadoes, as we did this evening. It is past time to start selectively activating sirens. Give us a call at AccuWeather at (316) 266-8000 and ask for sales. Our SelectWarn® system will solve this problem.
Otherwise, we train people not to pay attention to tornado warnings and that is a dangerous lesson to learn.
P.S. My son-in-law Bill Cross graduated law school which is why we were in Lawrence today. Congratulations, Bill!!
ADDITION: Spectacular photo of the tornado near Lake Perry here.
BUMPED due to tornado coverage as this is an important issue.