Ed Fenelon on advancements in weather forecasting and warning capability

As Meteorologist In Charge of the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Chicago Ed Fenelon and his colleagues meteorologists Mike Bardou and Matt Friedlein of the National Weather Service-Chicago. They will look at how a half century of advances in weather forecasting have impacted severe weather forecasting since 1967 while famed Storm Chaser and structural engineer Tim Marshall as well as Storm Prediction Center Director Russ Schneider will rundown the atmospheric set-up which produced the horrors of that fateful day.

Advancements since 1967 in weather forecasting and warning capability

By Ed Fenelon

On Friday afternoon April 21, 1967, the Chicago area suffered its worst tornado outbreak. At least 10 tornadoes struck northeast Illinois, three of which were violent, F4 tornadoes. These storms took 58 lives, caused more than 1000 injuries, and resulted in over a half a billion dollars in damage. The Advancements since 1967 in weather forecasting and warning capability, technology, communications, and preparedness have been tremendous. We’ll look at some of the lifesaving initiatives that have evolved since this tornado outbreak including: an evolution of meteorology tools (radar, satellite, atmospheric computer models) and research applied to forecasting, that today allows the recognition of potential severe weather threats often days in advance; incredibly robust relay of information through channels that hardly or didn’t exist 50 years ago (including storm spotters, social media, and smart phones); and the collaborative partnership throughout the weather industry that collectively allow us together to do what no one could do alone. Still, tornadoes can occur anywhere in our area, in rural, suburban, or highly urbanized areas, either inland or along the lakefront, in the middle of the night or during an afternoon rush-hour. Preparedness is essential.