Inaccurate reporting of SPC products

Hari Sreenivasan reporting on the 14 May 2012 tornado outbreak

Hari Sreenivasan reporting on the 14 May 2012 tornado outbreak on the 16 April PBS Newshour.

I’m still working on my chase logs for the last few days (some video is already up on my YouTube channel), but I wanted to sound off about two inaccurate information nuggets I keep hearing in media reports of this past weekend’s tornado outbreak, including, unfortunately, on the PBS NewsHour, a broadcast I respect greatly.

1. I keep hearing the number “120 tornadoes” bandied about as though it were an official tornado count. I presume this statistic was gleaned from the preliminary SPC storm reports page for 14 April 2012. The problems lie with the words “preliminary” (self-explanatory) and “reports”, many of which may be redundant and still have to be reconciled. If there’s a burglary, and three people call the police to report it, you don’t count it as three burglaries! (Update: The most recent updated count from Greg Carbin is 60, meaning there were an average of two reports per tornado.)

2. A number of reports have cited NWS for giving “warning 24 hours in advance”. A 24-hour lead time on a tornado warning is simply not possible at present. The SPC did issue a High Risk Convective Outlook more than 24 hours in advance, but not a watch, and certainly not a warning.

That said, the media have done a decent job giving credit to the NWS for being on the ball with this outbreak. Bravo, NWS!

Another, more complete perspective on this topic can be found here.