The Future Of Severe Weather Forecasting

Wednesday, February 26th 2014, 10:49 pm
By: News 9

By Chief Meteorologist David Payne, News 9

UNDATED -- As severe weather season approaches, we want to know how we can better protect Oklahomans. Chief Meteorologist David Payne just met with the best of the best at Chasercon, an annual National Storm Chaser Convention held in Denver, Colo.

Weather researcher Jon Davies says technology today knocks his socks off and it's only getting better.

"I think we'll keep gaining in knowledge and we're going to get better with our forecast," Davis said. "Every once and while, we're going to have one that's, wow, where did that come from?"

Like the tornado that hit El Reno on May 31, 2013. OU Meteorology research professor Dr. Howard Bluestein has been in Oklahoma since 1976. He said he's never seen so many intense tornadoes in such a short period of time as we saw in May 2013.  He adds we took something good from the outbreak, new data models that will help us better predict future storms.

"These are models that can actually model individual storms and they're going to come up with an ensemble of forecasts of varying initial conditions," Bluestein said. "You may be able to assign, a better probability that yes, the next day there will be storms. Of those storms, there will be a certain chain that there will be tornadoes."

Chasercon 2014 also remembered some of the storm trackers who died last May, including Tim Samaras. He helped start Chasercon. With his passing, the convention was up in the air. But every single chaser who attended this year's event agreed, it must go on.

Organizer Caryn Hill said, "This is for the chasers. We take feedback every year from the chasers what they want to hear, what they want to see, what they want for classes."

"The whole theme is try to get chasers better educated, making them better forecasters so we don't make mistakes as much," said organizer Roger Hill.

Through all the violence in Oklahoma in 2013, Jon Davies said we did learn something. "That people in central Oklahoma have a heightened awareness of tornadoes and have thought a little bit about where they need to go for safety."

Chasercon has always been held in Denver, but Roger Hill said at the request of the storm chasers, they may move it around to other cities, like Oklahoma City, in the future.