Where we get severe weather watches and warnings - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Where we get severe weather watches and warnings


Severe thunderstorm and tornado watches are pretty common around Iowa in the spring and summer months. But, have you ever wondered where these watches come from?

The modern system of forecasting tornadoes and severe thunderstorms has roots dating back more than fifty years.

On March 25th, 1948, Air Force weather officers accurately predicted that a tornado would hit Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma. This was the first ever successful tornado forecast, and it set the stage for the development of what is now the Storm Prediction Center located in Norman, Oklahoma.

The Storm Prediction Center is one of a number of national forecast centers. It is similar to the National Hurricane Center, but it is responsible for tornado and severe thunderstorm forecasting for the lower 48 states.

It is from this state of the art complex on the campus of the University of Oklahoma that every tornado and severe thunderstorm watch is issued.

The Storm Prediction Center averages about 1,000 watches per year.

The highly trained staff is dedicated to looking, watching, and learning from the atmosphere and they are very dedicated to forecasting severe weather.

The Storm Prediction Center staff utilizes the best radars, satellites, lightning data, and high resolution forecast models available anywhere in the world. But even with all of that technology, the challenge of anticipating Mother Nature remains enormous.

The Storm Prediction Center coordinates very closely with National Weather Service Offices located across the United States. The Storm Prediction Center is responsible for issuing the watches, while the NWS issues most of the warnings. The SPC and the NWS also have a close relationship with emergency management offices and the media in order to get a unified message about severe weather out to the public.

You can rest assured that during severe weather KWWL meteorologists are in constant communication with the NWS and SPC. It is our policy to break into programming as soon as any watch or warning is issued for the viewing area. The KWWL weather team has one goal, to track storms in order to keep you safe.

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