Meridian, Miss. Radar-indicated, confirmed, observed and catastrophic. These are the new words the National Weather Service in Jackson is using, as a part of a new Impact Based Warning System. The system first came into play in 2012 after a historic 2011 tornado outbreak, that resulted in over 500 fatalities. NWS Jackson Warning Coordinator Steve Wilkinson was on hand Tuesday morning to speak to emergency management officials about the new system.
"If something we feel is a strong tornado, an EF-2 or EF-3, we have some wording we use," said Wilkinson. "If we feel like it's an EF-4 or EF-5, then we would use what's called "catastrophic" or tornado emergency wording. That means it's a really serious situation, kind of like what occurred in Louisville and we did use that in Louisville two weeks ago."
NWS offices all across the US are testing the new warning system, but the Jackson office has permanently implemented it.
April 28th was the first significant event for which the impact based warnings were used, and it has many at NWS in Jackson pleased.
"For the event on April 28th, we feel like it worked very well," said Wilkinson. "We had confirmation in our warnings. About 67% of the actual tornadoes touched down. We are never going to be 100% because of distance from the radar and certain issues like that."
With the system being fairly new, Wilkinson hopes that confidence in the warnings will grow with time.