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April 28, 2011

Tornado warning for area counties

The weather service has issued Tornado Warnings until 8:45 a.m. for portions of Carroll and Baltimore counties:

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BALTIMORE MD/WASHINGTON DC
814 AM EDT THU APR 28 2011

NWSTHE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN STERLING VIRGINIA HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
  BALTIMORE COUNTY IN NORTHERN MARYLAND...
  HARFORD COUNTY IN NORTHERN MARYLAND...

* UNTIL 845 AM EDT

* AT 809 AM EDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
  SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO OVER
  NORTHWESTERN BALTIMORE COUNTY...OR 10 MILES EAST OF WESTMINSTER...
  MOVING NORTHEAST AT 50 MPH.

* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE...
  FREELAND...
  MARYLAND LINE...
  NORRISVILLE...

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

TAKE COVER NOW. MOVE TO AN INTERIOR ROOM ON THE LOWEST FLOOR OF A
STURDY BUILDING AND AVOID WINDOWS. IF OUTDOORS OR IN A MOBILE HOME OR
VEHICLE...MOVE TO THE CLOSEST SUBSTANTIAL SHELTER AND PROTECT
YOURSELF FROM FLYING DEBRIS

Posted by Frank Roylance at 8:17 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Tornadoes, Watches and warnings
        

Comments

I don't really understand how "warning" and "watch" are used here in Maryland. Growing up in Iowa, a warning or watch was always accompanied by an explanation: "a watch means conditions are favorable for a tornado to occur" and "a warning means a tornado has been spotted." But this warning seems to mean that conditions are ripe for a tornado, not that a tornado has actually been spotted?

FR: It means either that a tornado has been spotted, or that rotation has been detected in Doppler radar images. That rotation may or may not be producing a visible funnel cloud or a tornado on the ground.

It really was a poorly written indication:

"SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO OVER
NORTHWESTERN BALTIMORE COUNTY...OR 10 MILES EAST OF WESTMINSTER...
MOVING NORTHEAST AT 50 MPH."

I just say capable, it didn't say was detected. That should be a watch unless a an actual tornado was detected or reported"

FR: Here's the official definition for a Tornado Warning, from the NWS Weather Glossary: "This is issued when a tornado is indicated by the WSR-88D radar or sighted by spotters; therefore, people in the affected area should seek safe shelter immediately. They can be issued without a Tornado Watch being already in effect. They are usually issued for a duration of around 30 minutes."

The cell that blew through here around 10:30 had some suspicious activity. It was kind of interesting, in that half-way through its traversal of our area in Owings Mills, it suddenly shifted tracks, going from a North-easterly track to an almost due-east track. It was odd watching the clouds blowing over suddenly just shift direction.

As it was, watching the clouds develop through the rest of the cycle, there were several instances of significant updrafts that had "wiggles" to them, if not outright rotation. Nothing that ever got substantial or lasted more than 20-30 seconds. But it was pretty clear that conditions were favorable for something to happen.

We never received any of the really torrential rains that were forecast. Still enough to cancel my boys' baseball games this afternoon, though. It'll be nice to dry out for a couple of days.

So was there a Tornado Warning today for Anne Arundel County (or parts of) or not? The Weather Channel posted one around noon, but the NWS website never showed one. Schools were under full tornado preparation, but I was sitting at home banking on the NWS being more accurate. How do we know who to believe?

FR: There was, briefly, a warning for the Mayo area, if I recall correctly. It was on the NWS website, but very small on the map and hard to see. We did post an item here.

The only person that can issue a tornado warning is the national weather service. News channels such as the weather channel just relay that information. So if the weather channel was relaying a tornado warning it first came from the national weather service. Sometimes the
national weather service website takes a while to post tornado warnings. So if the weather channel is giving you a read out on the bottom of the screen of a tornado warning, they are just relaying the information from the national weather service.

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About Frank Roylance
This site is the Maryland Weather archive. The current Maryland Weather blog can be found here.
Frank Roylance is a reporter for The Baltimore Sun. He came to Baltimore from New Bedford, Mass. in 1980 to join the old Evening Sun. He moved to the morning Sun when the papers merged in 1992, and has spent most of his time since covering science, including astronomy and the weather. One of The Baltimore Sun's first online Web logs, the Weather Blog debuted in October 2004. In June 2006 Frank also began writing comments on local weather and stargazing for The Baltimore Sun's print Weather Page. Frank also answers readers’ weather queries for the newspaper and the blog. Frank Roylance retired in October 2011. Maryland Weather is now being updated by members of The Baltimore Sun staff
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