Doppler Radar-
a powerful, accurate, and trustworthy weather tool!
by Brian A. Waldrop, NWS Storm Spotter


"The first time I assumed nothing would happen someone was killed by a tornado."

Hopefully after reading this, no one will fall for the "Cry Wolf" senario with weather warnings.
You have heard it before on NOAA weather radio:  "The National Weather Service in Nashville has issued a tornado warning for Williamson County including the city of Franklin until 4:00 AM CDT.  At 3:15 AM CDT, National Weather Service Doppler radar indicated a developing tornado 25 miles southwest of the city of Franklin moving northeast at 40 mph.  A tornado may develop at any time.  Take cover now."  Then nothing happens and people begin ignoring Doppler indicated warnings.

Nature had "cried wolf" with me several times before when I spotted wall clouds without any resulting in a tornado.  Sometimes I tend to be too conservative with my storm reports.  The first time I assumed nothing would happen someone was killed by a tornado.  May 31, 2001 was the first time I did not take the situation seriously.  On that day, I was trying out my new video camera on a wall cloud that I spotted on I-65 just east of Columbia, TN.  To me it was just another wall cloud, but what I did not know was Doppler radar was indicating strong winds above ground level in that storm.  The pictures below were captured from the video I shot as the storm crossed I-65.
The tornado touched down near Auburntown and killed one man.  Since that day, I became a true believer in Doppler Radar, and I strongly advise everyone to take all Doppler indicated warnings seriously every time.  Dopper radar can save lives.  The damage below is the result from the tornado that day.
Storm damage pictures are from the National Weather Service.

There is a new Radar tool on the horizon called Phased Array Radar.  This new tool promises earlier warnings and will not be available for years to come.  Until then, Doppler radar along with the eyes of a trained storm spotter are our best information sources in providing the public with life-saving weather warnings.