In the evening of March 25, 1948,
a tornado roared through Tinker Air
Force Base (AFB), Oklahoma, causing considerable damage, a few
injuries, but no fatalities. However, the destruction could have been much worse. A few
hours earlier Air Force Captain Robert C. Miller and Major Ernest J. Fawbush correctly
predicted that atmospheric conditions were ripe for tornadoes in the vicinity of Tinker
AFB. This first tornado forecast triggered a chain of events, which led to the present
day severe storms forecast system and a vast national research program investigating
these killer storms.
Through a tremendous investment in research, observing systems such as the Doppler
radar, and forecasting technology, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration's National Weather Service issues more than 15,000 severe storm and
tornado watches and warnings each year. The average lead time for warnings has
increased from 6 to almost 12 minutes from 1994 to 1998. This means that individuals
and communities have more time to prepare for tornadoes by seeking shelter and
securing property, thereby reducing loss of life and limiting the economic costs of
Several centers and laboratories within NOAA are dedicated to research efforts to
further improved forecasts and daily forecast operations to protect life and property.
NOAA's Storm Prediction Center (SPC), located in Norman, Okla., provides short-term
guidance products for hazardous weather over the contiguous United States. The
Center coordinates with National Weather Service (NWS) field offices around the
country for short-term aspects of hazardous weather such as flash floods,
thunderstorms, tornadoes, winter storms, blizzards and freezing precipitation. The SPC
is the primary NWS center of expertise for forecasting hazardous weather and
economically-disruptive weather events.
The Center makes maximum use of
observations, numerical forecast models, Doppler Radar and geostationary satellites to
generate forecasts. By creating timely and accurate guidance of hazardous weather
across the continental United States, the SPC helps NWS field offices effectively
accomplish their public safety functions. In addition to working with National Weather
Service field offices and other National Centers, the Storm Prediction Center
collaborates with local, national and international meteorological communities, various
NOAA offices and academia. The Storm Prediction Center provides internal scientific
support and techniques development. This support includes developing, evaluating and
testing forecast methods. The Center also enhances its operations and trains
meteorologists and customers to use SPC products.
NOAA's National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) is one of the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration's internationally-known Environmental Research
Laboratories, leading the way in investigations of all aspects of severe weather.
Headquartered in Norman OK with staff in Boulder CO, Seattle WA, Salt Lake City UT,
and Madison WI, the people of NSSL, in partnership with the National Weather Service,
are dedicated to improving the Nation's severe weather warnings and forecasts in order
to save lives and reduce property damage.
The NSSL and the SPC work together closely to make sure the latest scientific
advances are rapidly incorporated into severe weather watches. This close cooperation
between the two centers will continue to improve severe weather forecasts to the