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Heather’s Weather Lab: Live Vipir Radar Shows Us Debris

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – Watching destruction as it happens. That’s what state-of-the art technology allow us to do. Not only can you see the storm develop, but we can also see the damage the storm is doing in real time.

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During the April 28th, tornado outbreak, our team of meteorologists said terms like “debris” and “debris ball” more often than ever before. That’s because we’re now able to detect such things with dual pole radar or what we call, our  Live Vipir Radar. Technically we show what’s called a correlation coefficient. Simply stated,  it’s showing debris flying in the air. Depending on the height in which the dual pole radar is detecting debris, a TDS will populate. A TDS is a tornado detection signature.

While we’ve been able to pick up on debris based on radar alone for many many years, it’s never been identified as a TDS or a debris ball until 2011.

Steve Wilkinson is the Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Jackson, Mississippi.

“We’ve researched tornadoes around the country that shows the height of the debris, and we were getting up well into the 25,000 to 35,000 ft. range on the Louisville storm. That told us that it was a violent tornado. At that point, we issued a Tornado Emergency,” said Wilkinson.

A tornado emergency is issued on average once a year in central Mississippi. Because of the debris ball technology, the National Weather Service (NWS) in Jackson would have issued the tornado emergency  based on the debris signature alone.

tornado detection signature  also helps survey teams at the NWS determine where a tornado potentially touched down.

“Even if we don’t get reports, we know there was a tornado there and we can go and sure enough you drive underneath it, go around the corner right underneath it and there’s your trees down you’re damaged house,” Said Wilkinson.

 
During the 28th tornado outbreak, when we identified debris with our Dual Pole Live Vipir Radar, more than 85% of the time a tornado was confirmed.