Closer radar could save storm victims

MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - For those in the storm's path over the weekend, there wasn't a lot of warning.

Saturday's tornado touched down from 10:43 to 10:53 a.m. A tornado warning wasn't issued until 11 a.m. That was 7 minutes after the damage was done.

The warning came late because Meridian's closest radar is in Brandon. Because of the angle of the radar's beam from that distance, it's trying to detect storms from 6,000 feet in the air.

"If we had a closer radar, one that we're not scanning a mile up in the atmosphere with, that would enable us to see much better storm structures," Storm Team 11 chief meteorologist Brian Hutton Jr. says. "So we could better determine if a storm is rotating or not, better determine if there's a debris signature, all the things we look for on radar to tell us if there's a tornado or not, we increase the ability of us to detect if a tornado is possible."

Bringing a radar to the area wouldn't be a cheap endeavor.

Officials at Baron Services estimate it would cost upwards of $1 million for a private operation to purchase a radar in this area. That's not including maintenance (which can cost upwards of $10,000 a year), power and construction of a possible tower.