How do weather experts know if a tornado touched down?

Print
Email
|

wwltv.com

Posted on March 9, 2011 at 7:28 PM

Derek Kevra / Eyewitness News

SLIDELL, La. -- Even after the threat of severe weather has passed, the National Weather Service's work is not done. Storm surveyors must go out, look at the damage and declare if a tornado touched down and how strong it was.

"Things were flying everywhere,” said Laura Fox. “It happened so fast.”

“We couldn't see anything at that time,” said Dianne Roberts. “I knew something had happened but of course we never dreamed it would have been a tornado.”

At about 7 a.m. Wednesday morning the neighborhood of Lake Village in Slidell was woken up by a strong thunderstorm and the possibility of a tornado.

“It sounded like an 18-wheeler coming through my house. I heard a loud rumble and all of a sudden it was glass shattering. I jumped out of bed so fast, I didn't know what was going on,” Fox said.

But was it a tornado? With all the science and technology the National Weather Service has, they still need a man on the ground to survey the damage after a storm and determine if a tornado has formed.

On Wednesday, that man was Mike Koziara.

“I look at the damage, I look at tree limbs, I'm looking at roof damage,” he said.

Koziara is the eyes of the National Weather Service after a tornado is reported. He walks through the impacted area analyzing the damage and using the criteria of the enhanced Fujita scale to classify tornadoes.

Koziara uses weather data collected during the storm as well as the damage assessed after the storm in order to make his decision.

“Yea, this would tend to make me more inclined towards a EF-1 with this type of damage – see the panels, the planks, the rafters are out, you can see the failure of this one section that failed to hold up the roof; this whole section is gone,” he said.

When the National Weather Service surveys a storm site, a tell-tale sign that it was a tornado is if the damage is in a straight line. Notice how this side of the street has a lot of damage, and directly across the street, it looks like nothing has happened.

For the storm this morning in Lake Village, Koziara says that given the weather conditions this morning, things could have been a lot worse.

Residents are now left to band together and clean up.

After surveying the site and reviewing wind data, the National Weather Service has classified the storm in Slidell as an F1 tornado, which means winds up to 110 miles per hour.

 

Print
Email
|