National Weather Service aims to track more tornadoes, reduce injuries

Tornadoes are most commonly seen in Indiana from March through June, but they've been reported as early as February and as late in the year as November.

Posted on March 17, 2014 at 4:31 p.m.

It might seem like winter is Indiana's longest season but there's a good argument that says "tornado season" has it beat. 

Tornadoes have been reported as early as February and as late as November. What's more, if you take a look at the dates of the biggest tornado outbreaks in Indiana, you'll see four of the top 10 tornadoes have happened since 2010.

But don't fret too much. There aren't actually more tornadoes -- they're just being detected better. A doppler radar introduced in 1990 called "dual-pol radar" coupled with improved data models has made it easier for meteorologists to detect and track tornadoes quickly.

"It's almost like radar in HD," Daniel McCarthy, meteorologist-in-charge at the National Weather Service office in Indianapolis said. "We're able to tell more details about storms in about half the time."

And technology is going to get better, which means that more record-breaking storms such as the outbreak of 30 tornadoes on Nov. 17, 2013, may become more common.

McCarthy hopes that improved detection will also help prevent injuries and deaths in storms. In the November outbreak, injuries were minor in Indiana and at least six people in Illinois died

"The mission of the National Weather Service is to protect life and property," McCarthy said. "The better (technology and data) that we have, it gives us that much better of a chance to issue warnings so that people have enough time to make the decision on where and when to take cover."

Remember: it's Severe Weather Preparedness Week. Statewide drills are planned fro 10:15 a.m. and 7:35 p.m. Thursday, March 20, throughout Indiana.

Top 20 Tornado outbursts in Indiana              
June 2, 1990 37
November 17, 2013 30
April 19, 2011 29
May 25, 2011 22
April 3, 1974 21
November 22, 1992 15
March 12, 1976 13
November 26, 2010 13
April 20, 2004 12
April 19, 1996 11
March 6, 1961 10
April 11, 1965 10
June 26, 1973 10
June 11, 1998 10
February 25, 1956 9
October 24, 1967 9
October 24, 2001 9
March 20, 1976 8
June 7, 1980 8
March 10, 1986 8


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