National Weather Service Forecast Office Receives High Marks for Tornado Warnings

By: Meteorologist Mark Henderson
By: Meteorologist Mark Henderson

Kudos are in order for the National Weather Service forecast office in Chicago for outstanding efficiency in issuing tornado warnings, including those for Winnebago, Ogle, Boone, Lee, and DeKalb Counties.

According to NWS statistics, between January and August, the NWS office provided advance warning for 88% of tornadoes that occurred in the office's 23 county forecast area, exceeding the national average by 16%!

Furthermore, the average lead time from tornado warning issuance to the initial report of a tornado occurring was 17 minutes, exceeding national standards by 4 minutes. When tornadoes threaten, and every second matters, those extra 4 minutes are ever so precious.

According to the National Weather Service, six of the seventeen tornadoes that struck the area this year were “significant” tornadoes, rated EF2 or greater on the Enhanced Fujita Scale. This included the Poplar Grove tornado, an EF-3, that occurred on January 7th.

Thanks to the advance warnings issued, there were no fatalities in any of those tornadoes, and only 11 injuries occurred in the 23 county forecast area.

The National Weather service goes on to say, "More accurate tornado warnings with greater lead time for the people of north central and northeast Illinois and northwest Indiana can be attributed to the help of dedicated and knowledgeable Skywarn storm spotters, excellent communications and cooperation with state, county and local emergency management agencies, superb efforts by the local broadcast media to get the word out, and a dedicated and well trained staff at the National Weather Service."

The NWS reminds us all that "everyone must take personal responsibility for their own safety and the safety of family members and those in their care by being vigilant and monitoring weather conditions. Have a severe weather plan for home, work, and school. Even with today’s technology and high speed communications, sometimes tornadoes still strike with little or no warning. And even the most perfect weather warning isn’t worth anything if you don’t have a method to receive the warning or know what to do when it is issued."


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