Curl was working one of those stations. When he started at the Norman office in 1993, the staff was working on a system that had separate monitors for information. But then came the Denver AWIPS Risk Reduction and Requirement Evaluation, referred to by meteorologists simply as DARE.
"We were involved in a lot of DARE testing, which set the ground for the AWIPS,” Curl said.
That’s not uncommon. Curl said working in the Norman office often allows meteorologists exposure to new technology and input, as well.
"The AWIPS is a lot quicker and more efficiently gives us more lead time,” he said. "It was probably vitally important on May 3, 1999, with the number of tornadoes.
"It gives you an advantage down the road, because living in the Southern Plains, it’s just a matter of time before another major event.”
There’s a narrow window where conditions come together for a long-track, violent tornado, Andra said. So the system used by staff members lets them look at subtle changes that can contribute to a major event.
"For instance, every hour, it runs models that gives us a forecast for the next eight hours,” he said. "That forecast even shows what the radar will look like at that time.”
That’s quite a difference from the teletype Sohl used for warnings as a weather service intern in 1981 at Sioux Falls, S.D. A witness to several advances through various systems, Sohl agrees DARE gave meteorologists the technological experience that helped when they went to AWIPS.
That, in turn, helped on May 3, 1999, when one storm after another produced tornadoes.
"Had we not had that type of technology,” Sohl said, "it would have been very difficult to keep up with that number of tornadoes.”