Tuesday, April 3, 2018

1974 Super Tornado Outbreak...

44 years ago today was the April 3rd  tornado outbreak where 148 tornadoes were confirmed within 18 hours with over 40 of them being F4-5.  At the time I was a 27 year old “kid” doing the weather at WDTN-TV2 in Dayton, Ohio.  25 miles from my station, an F5 tornado crushed a subdivision in Xenia, Ohio.  Despite 15-20 minutes of advance notice, 32 people died in that storm.   Why did so many die with such notice?  I think back to all that has changed since then.   My competitor station, WHIO was one of the few TV stations that had their own radar.  The rest of us used what was called a “dial in “ connection to the NWS radar printed on facsimile paper.  I was watching WHIO’s live radar and could clearly see a well-defined hook echo.  It was also easy to see on my “dial in” connection, but we could not zoom in and the image was black & white.  But the biggest thing back then was no social media & no cell phones.  The only way to alert the public was either on the radio or on TV.  But what if you didn’t have either one turned on?    Today, if a warning is issued and you have set up the weather app on your cell phone, you’ll receive an alert no matter what time of day it is, and it’s location specific.   Plus, when damage starts to happen now, social media lights up with pictures & videos immediately.  We are clearly better off having all the new technology now that was not even thought about back then.   Look at radar then…no looping capability, just a static image in black & white compared to color loops today that can be zoomed down to street level.  In addition today, besides basic reflectivity, the radar can be placed in Doppler mode that shows wind velocities coming to and going away from the radar.   What a difference!  You should feel much safer now, especially if you have set up your cell phone with the FOX 8 Weather App.


We do have a slight risk for several strong storms between 2-5 AM as a cold front will sweep through us before daybreak.  The main upper energy is far to our north and it appears our main threat will be some gusty high winds with briefly heavy downpours. I’m going to sleep with my cell phone at my side just in case a warning is issued for my location.   All the action should quickly end after daybreak with clearing skies by midday.  You’ll notice a different feel to the air and sweaters & jackets will be needed as the brisk north winds will add to the chill.  Highs will struggle to get out of the 60s, especially if the clouds linger.  Sunshine returns for Thursday into Friday before another cold front brings back the rain threat for Saturday.  These front are likely to continue coming every 3-4 days for at least the next 10-14 days.  If you have travel plans to go up north, remember more snow storms are coming for them despite the fact we’re in April.  Stayed tuned!

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