Thursday, March 29, 2018

First Modern Tornado Forecast Made 70 Years Ago.

The first attempts to forecast the potential for tornadic storms was made by Lt. John P. Finley, of the Army Signal Corps, back in the 1800s. Joe Galway (of the NSSFC in Kansas City) wrote an article about Finley's pioneering work that can be found at:

https://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/1520-0477%281985%29066%3C1389%3AJFTFSS%3E2.0.CO%3B2


The first modern tornado forecast was made on March 25th, 1948, by Miller and Fawbush - officers at Tinker AFB in Oklahoma. The base had been struck by a destructive tornado on the 21st and the General commanding the base was pushing the weather detachment to explore associated conditions that led to the first tornado. When they found similar synoptic conditions on the 25th, they issued the first tornado forecast at the General's urging. See this link for details of that day (70 years ago last Sunday):


Another tornado actually struck the base during the late afternoon of March 25th, after the forecast had been made and the base took actions to prepare for sever storms - see photo above.

The composite charts for the two days of interest are shown below, and explained at:


The two articles linked just above were prepared for the Symposium held at the University of Oklahoma commemorating the 50th anniversary of this historic event in weather-forecasting history.




1 comment:

  1. Bob, thank you for sharing these historical papers that should always be of interest to all severe weather meteorologists. Made the morning cup of coffee more enjoyable. I've been interested in the early forecasting work of Increase Lapham as a "private meteorologist", his use of telegraph for weather data gathering and communicating forecasts. His interactions with New York Times and Cleveland Abbe's work set the framework for a national weather service. The formation of the early Signal Corp's weather during the Civil war and its evolution into the Weather Bureau always suggested to me a connection existed between private and government weather services.
    By the way the Miller recollection of the first tornado forecast had me laughing so hard I almost spilled my coffee. How lucky you were to have rubbed shoulders with him during your military days. When I worked as a forecaster at Buckley AFB in Denver he called once asking about a thunderstorm forecast our base made. He asked - "do you believe in that forecast? I said yes. He responded "I hope so, thanks". And that was it.
    More on another day, Jack

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