Sunday, April 29, 2012

A New Tornado Tracker

Image Credit: NOAA.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), an average of 800 tornadoes are reported nationwide each year. The federal agency says as of April 29th there have been 588 tornadoes in 2012.  You already know that Doppler radar is used to detect tornadoes as they form.  Now there is another way to track tornadoes; through their reports.

Climate Central has just unveiled their new Tornado Tracker, an interactive map that lets you see not only where the twisters touched down last year, but where they are being reported now (it’s updated every 10 minutes around the clock), or on any date back to June 1, 2004. The example below shows the display for March 2, 2012, when there was an outbreak of tornadoes in the Southeast and Ohio River Valley: to get to the interactive version just click on the link.
Location of the tornado reports on March 2, 2012.  Image Credit: Climate Central.
The tracker uses Google maps which allows you to move the map around and zoom in to any location.  If you click on the tornado icon, information from that report appears as in the example below.

Example of a tornado report. Click on the map for a larger image.  Image Credit: Climate Central.
In the above example, a tornado touched down near Columbia International University.  You can zoom in to see the exact location of the report which gives you information about the tornado intensity and any damage.  The information is provided by NOAA's Storm Prediction Center, who manages the database for tornado, high wind, and hail reports.

Test drive the tracker by looking at the largest tornado outbreak in recorded history.  From April 25 – 28, 2011, more than 300 tornadoes ripped through parts of 21 states, claiming the lives of at least 321 people.  The link to the tornado tracker also resides on this blog at the right under Weather Links.