Forecasters Touting Advances in Twister Technology

APRIL 5, 2004 - Posted at 7:41 a.m. CDT

WASHINGTON, DC - Officials say new technology in forecasting tornadoes will avoid tragedies like the series of twisters that killed 148 people in the Midwest thirty years ago this April.

Warning coordination meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration's Storm Prediction Center Dan McCarthy says the twisters would have been better forecast today.

Forecasters then failed to predict just how violent the weather would be and could not provide enough warning about where funnels would begin dropping from thunderstorms.

Those tornadoes on April 2 and 4, 1974 proved the effectiveness of weather radios and increased their use.  The disaster also brought improved storm shelter designs and boosted spending on tornado research.

Phased array radar promises to give forecasters still more accurate storm data.

Today computers allow meteorologists to pinpoint where severe weather might occur as far as 72 hours ahead of time.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)