by Bryan Painter Modified: May 1, 2009 at 5:22 pm •  Published: April 26, 2009
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photo - Scott Curl, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s Norman forecast office, recently talked about technology regarding the May 3, 1999,  tornadoes. Photo by bryan painter, the oklahoman
Scott Curl, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s Norman forecast office, recently talked about technology regarding the May 3, 1999, tornadoes. Photo by bryan painter, the oklahoman

/> 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.”

The difference
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.”

by Bryan Painter
Assistant Local Editor
Bryan Painter, assistant local editor, has 31 years’ experience in journalism, including 22 years with the state's largest newspaper, The Oklahoman. In that time he has covered such events as the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah...
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IF YOU GO
Anniversary event

When: 8 a.m. to

5 p.m. Friday

Where: National Weather Center, Norman

About the event
An event will

commemorate the 10-year anniversary of the May 3-4, 1999, tornado outbreak.

There will be sessions focusing on:


• Science and

technology


• Emergency

preparedness

and recovery


• Community and societal impacts


• Individual impacts: The people speak

registration
Attendance is free, but registration is required by Wednesday. A box lunch may be purchased for $10. Online

registration and the conference agenda are available at www.srh.noaa.gov/oun/wxevents/19990503/anniversary.php.

Information
Call 325-3816.

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