CNHI/Southeast Iowa

February 4, 2014

NWS gearing up for storm spotter training

OTTUMWA — It’s a bit odd to be thinking about this spring’s severe weather as you brace for yet another winter blast this week. But formal planning and training for storm spotters gets underway later this month.

Spring means temperatures that don’t require Thinsulate in your clothes. Green replaces the blinding glare of the sun on the snow. And, if the kids get too crazy inside, you can kick them out into the yard.

But spring also brings different risks. Since 1980, Iowa has only recorded one tornado in the December-February time frame. Once March arrives, things pick up fast.

And this year’s schedule comes along with a new review of tornado activity in Iowa since 1980. Why 1980? National Weather Service Lead Forecaster Craig Cogil said a “concerted effort by the NWS to try and document and rate all tornado events” significantly increased the quality of data in the 1980s as compared to the prior decades.

That was also about the time amateur and professional storm chasing started to take off, and improvements in radar technology also helped. Between the two, the chance of a tornado — even a brief one — being seen and reported went up.

So has the lead time for major outbreaks. While there is still no way to tell whether the season will be more or less severe than normal, forecasters are getting better at identifying when people should pay close attention and getting word out days in advance. Cogil said some of the major outbreaks in recent years had as much as a week of lead time.

“While the specifics weren't necessarily known, the pattern favorable for a major outbreak was recognized and added to products by the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) and local offices,” he said.

New generations of radar are further improving the ability to identify tornadoes and warn of them. But there’s a big gap in what they can do. Radar is line-of-sight, which means if you’re too far from the radar, it can’t see much more than the tops of storms. That’s where spotters come in.

Text Only
CNHI/Southeast Iowa
  • Victimized by the 'marriage penalty'

    In a few short months, I'll pass the milestone that every little girl dreams of: the day she swears - before family and God, in sickness and in health, all in the name of love - that she's willing to pay a much higher tax rate.

    April 15, 2014

  • Allergies are the real midlife crisis

    One of the biggest mysteries is why the disease comes and goes, and then comes and goes again. People tend to experience intense allergies between the ages of 5 and 16, then get a couple of decades off before the symptoms return in the 30s, only to diminish around retirement age.

    April 15, 2014

  • treadmill-very-fast.jpg Tax deduction for a gym membership?

    April marks another tax season when millions of Americans will deduct expenses related to home ownership, children and education from their annual tax bill. These deductions exist because of their perceived value to society; they encourage behaviors that keep the wheels of the economy turning. So why shouldn't the tax code be revised to reward preventive health?

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Construction Trades pic 1 Marion County building permits on the rise

    It's expected to be a busy construction season around Marion County. According to County Zoning Administrator Missy Poffenbarger, her office has issued 17 building permits since March 18. 

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • bomb1 VIDEO: A year after marathon bombing, Boston remains strong

    The City of Boston came together Tuesday to honor those who were injured and lost their lives at the Boston Marathon on the one-year anniversary of the bombing. While the day was sure to be emotional, those affected by last year's race are showing they won't let the tragedy keep them down.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Life and Times cover.tiff Life and Times

    Click here to go to the new Life and Times e-magazine.

    May 30, 2012 1 Photo

  • Google acquires drone maker Titan Aerospace to spread Internet

    Google is adding drones to its fleets of robots and driverless cars.
    The Internet search company said it acquired Titan Aerospace, the maker of high-altitude, solar-powered satellites that provides customer access to data services around the world. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

    April 14, 2014

  • E-Cigarettes target youth with festivals, lawmakers say

    The findings, in a survey released Monday by members of Congress, should prod U.S. regulators to curb the industry, the lawmakers said. While e-cigarettes currently are unregulated, the Food and Drug Administration is working on a plan that would extend its tobacco oversight to the products.

    April 14, 2014

  • Search teams will send unmanned sub to look for missing Malaysian airliner

    Teams searching for a missing Malaysian airliner are planning for the first time to send an unmanned submarine into the depths of the Indian Ocean to look for wreckage, an Australian official leading the multi-nation search said Monday.

    April 14, 2014

  • Why Facebook is getting into the banking game

    Who would want to use Facebook as a bank? That's the question that immediately arises from news that the social network intends to get into the electronic money business.

    April 14, 2014

Oskaloosa Shopper
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Photo reprints