New Weather Warnings

By Hema Mullur
NewsWest 9

A new system takes effect October 1st changing the way you're warned about severe weather.  The National Weather Service hopes to lower the number of people unnecessarily affected by warnings.

West Texans are no strangers to severe weather.  A warning pops up for your county, and you know the storm is heading your way.  But starting October 1st, The National Weather Service is changing the way they issue those warnings.

"Starting Sctober 1st you're going to see more accurate warnings that are focused on a very specific area of the county that's affected," said Pat Vesper of The National Weather Service.

They're called storm based warnings, and the idea is to limit the number of people alarmed about impending weather when they don't need to be.

"We had a warning for Southeast Midland county," Vesper explained.   "If that information had gone out for all of Midland county, the end result of that would have been that over 100,000 people would think they're under warning, when in actuality, Southeast Midland county was only affected, and Midland proper was not."

Though the changes take effect October 1st, StormTracker 9 meteorologists have been using the new system for nearly a year.

"The thinner yellow area outlines the whole warning the way it's done now," said NewsWest 9 Chief Meteorologist Tom Tefertiller.  "But October 1st, the official way is going to be that thicker polygon warning there, and that's the storm based warning that shows you the exact area under the influence of the severe weather of the storm now, and about 30 minutes into the future."

In West Texas, that polygon means getting the information to the people who need it most.

"Some counties like Brewster county are larger than some states, so when you have a defined area of Brewster county, let's say, that's underneath the warning, this will be able to specify exactly where is it when you're talking about hundreds of miles really in some of these counties," said Tefertiller.

Vesper agreed.

"We're going to be able to reduce the false alarm area, the area where people should not get the warning, by up to 70% in some cases."

Soon, The National Weather Service will make the warning information available in GIS format so you can get the info sent right to your cell phone or other wireless device.