NWS and LEMA Discuss Recent Storms

By: Chris Whited Email
By: Chris Whited Email

It's not unusual to see thunderstorms over eastern Mississippi in the summer, storms that can bring their own surprises.

On July 10, a thunderstorm over Meridian produced a funnel cloud that was reported by emergency management officials to the National Weather Service. But the severe thunderstorm warning that was in effect for Lauderdale County was not upgraded to a tornado warning.

"We get at the weather service during the summertime, numerous reports of funnel clouds on any given day and we have to decipher that information, whether there is really a tornado threat," said Stephen Wilkinson of the National Weather Service. "And most of those funnel clouds are funnel clouds, they do not produce tornadoes. So we feel if we issued a tornado warning for all funnel cloud reports, we would be way over-warning the public and they in turn would not take it seriously when there is a real tornado."

Meteorologists at the Jackson office say they took several factors into account, such as the time of year and were atmospheric parameters in place for tornado formation? At the time, they were not.

Wilkinson also notes that the radar in Brandon 80 miles west of Meridian, did not show rotation in that storm.

"There are three radars covering this area, from approximately that 80-100 mile range, so we get several perspectives on storms we look at. And while it's not perfect, it certainly, combined with storm spotters, allows us to do a good job, I believe, with warning," Wilkinson said.

The National Weather Service met with Lauderdale Emergency Management
Agency officials Tuesday to discuss what happened earlier this month when the funnel cloud was reported by many people in the city.

"One of the biggest issues of what happened a couple of weeks ago was the information, and when I called over there, basically, what I was told was that it wasn't on radar," said LEMA director David Sharp. "That was pretty much it."

Sharp said he feels there was a breakdown in communication between local officials and the National Weather Service that day and feels now that ground has been broken to greatly improve communication between the two entities.


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