ORLANDO, Fla- – The National Weather Service plans to send survey teams to Lake and Volusia counties Monday morning to confirm if in fact two tornadoes touched down Saturday morning. Questions have arisen as to why there was “only” a Severe Thunderstorm Warning in effect at the time a possible tornado developed in DeLand.
It is important to note that only the National Weather Service can issue watches and warnings.
There are a lot of factors that go into issuing warnings in times of severe weather. Krizia Negron, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Melbourne was paying close attention to the storm that prompted the tornado warning in Lake County earlier. That warning was issued based on an observed tornado around Leesburg.
Negron said that the rotation signal inside of the storm was extremely weak, and there had been no ground truth to a tornado developing prior to entering Volusia County. It was decided to issue a Severe Thunderstorm Warning, but also highlight the threat for a possible brief tornado. Below is the text from the Severe Thunderstorm issued for Volusia County Saturday morning.
The National Weather Service often uses the *tornado possible* distinction within the Severe Thunderstorm Warning when the rotation is weak and there is no confirmation of a tornado. In these types of situations, the damage caused by a weak tornado would be comparable to that of a very strong thunderstorm. The Pinpoint Weather Team continuously highlights that a severe thunderstorm can do as much damage as a weak tornado and that they should be taken seriously.
“I could use a Tornado Warning every time we see weak rotation, but that would be a disservice,” Negron said.
Making this situation more difficult was the storm’s proximity to the radar. The main radars used in Central Florida are in Melbourne, Jacksonville and Tampa. The storm itself was close to being in the middle of all three radar sites. In a situation like Saturday when the storm updrafts aren’t intense and the storm itself isn’t very tall, the radar beam overshoots the core of the storm, making it more difficult to observe the rotation. The rotation in the storm was also very brief only lasting one or two scans of the radar. The environment for tornadoes Saturday was extremely low, but one storm was able to take advantage of the ingredients that were present to begin rotating.
Negron said we can all learn from this and urged everyone to pay close attention to the weather as it doesn’t take a lot for storms to spin in this part of the country. The Pinpoint Weather App is a great tool to get any watches and warnings issued by the National Weather Service and to pinpoint those storms to your exact location.