National Weather Service and Severe Weather

By: Stacy Berman
By: Stacy Berman

May 11, 2006

It is this time of year that you have to keep a close eye on the weather. A nice day can quickly turn into an afternoon of some severe thunderstorms, and in addition to all of the Newsplex Meteorologists, folks at the National Weather Service are keeping their eyes to the sky for you.

Central Virginia may be far from tornado alley, but severe weather does strike the Commonwealth. April 14th was an example. This storm produced dangerous lightning and one bolt even struck an apartment complex in Albemarle County.

This storm stands out because no severe thunderstorm watch was issued ahead of time. A severe thunderstorm warning was eventually issued, but it was after the fact. Watches and warnings do not come from Charlottesville, they are issued by The National Weather Service.

"All of the severe weather watches, the severe thunderstorm and tornado watches that are issued in the United States are issued in collaboration with the local forecast offices and the Storm Prediction Center out in Norman, Oklahoma", explained David Manning, Warning Coordinating Meteorologist at the Baltimore/Washington Forecasting Office.

The storm prediction center in Oklahoma monitors the country for severe weather, so it's possible to miss a local storm. NWS offices have the power to issue a warning even when no watch is issue.

"In an ideal world, severe weather warning events would be preceded by a watch, sometimes that doesn't happen, but the majority of the time we have severe weather, it is proceeded by a watch."

The difference between a watch and a warning is that a watch has the potential to produce severe weather, while a warning means the potential is eminent.

Our viewing area overlaps another NWS office, with Albemarle, Green, Madison, Nelson, and Orange monitored by the Sterling office and Fluvanna and Louisa by the Wakefield office. this situation can cause problems with watches or warnings.

"During every shift, our forecasters are in constant communication with our neighboring weather forecast offices", said Manning.

Communication is key. However, the message can sometimes get lost.

"To really communicate the message, the national weather service is here to protect life and property. To communicate our message, we rely on our partnerships with the media."

When severe weather strikes, rely on our four meteorologists for accurate and dependable forecasts to keep YOU ahead of the storm.

NWS also recommends that you get a NOAA weather radio, which immediately sends alerts whenever a watch or warning is issued for your area.

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