How Severe Weather is Identified and Tracked

Back in the days before modern meteorology, predicting severe weather was pretty much a hit and miss science. While many trained weather experts were able to estimate and predict the arrival of hurricanes or blizzards due to changes in barometric pressure, wind velocity and direction, temperature, and humidity, just how serious or dangerous the storm would be was pretty much guesswork.

Today, thanks to Doppler radar and more accurate weather predicting instruments, it is possible to determine fairly accurately what is going to happen for days in advance.

Air masses that form in various parts of the country are now more accurately tracked and analyzed, determining their velocity, moisture level, and barometric pressure. Wind speeds are determined to predict when and where they will converge and what the outcome will be. While it is not always possible to predict exact intensity of storms or precipitation levels in every area, there are always indicators that will show the approximate location of potential storms and if there is a possibility of extremely dangerous weather such as tornadoes. Thanks to today’s technology, tornado watches and warnings keep people alerted to potentially deadly situations. And, thanks to radar, areas of rotation can be spotted before a tornado is formed, or ready to touch down.

Satellites spot growing tropical storms, and pinpoint possible hurricane producers while they are still nothing more than minor disturbances. These are tracked and watched for development, and monitored for speed and possible land fall locations. By determining wind speed, and observing the size of the storm, areas that were once left unprepared are not put on the alert days in advance.

Of course, not all weather forecasting is fool proof, even with modern technology, however, by recording climate and weather changes over a period of years, more accurate predictions are possible than ever before. The very fact that this information and data from around the country and the world can be shared and analyzed has contributed to the overall success of better forecasting not only for the week ahead, but for months in advance.  

Weather forecasting certainly, still is not an exact science, but it has come a long way. Shifts in wind direction and other factors may alter forecasts, or more intense situations that have been predicted may not occur. However, the progress in technology that keeps everyone informed and prepared for possible weather emergencies has been a vital improvement.