MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - A massive clean up effort is underway in Wetumpka today after a strong EF-2 tornado, packing winds of 135 mph, ripped through the city on Saturday.
WSFA 12 News covered the severe weather all weekend, using multiple different tools and state-of-the-art technology to give you the First Alert needed ahead of these severe storms.
The science behind tracking storms on a day like last Saturday is multi-dimensional; we as meteorologists use several different elements to help identify the location of potential hazards and where they will be next.
Velocity: This helps us examine the storm's structural features. This can include, but is not limited to: where updrafts/downdrafts may be, identifying areas of spin in the atmosphere and estimating wind speeds within a potential tornado-producing storm.
Tornado Debris Track (Correlation Coefficient): When a tornado touches down on the ground, it likely lofts debris in the air. These items can be identified on radar for a very simple reason; their size is likely different and constantly changing as the storm progresses. Most of the time, raindrops within a storm are of relatively similar size, so when particles other than liquid get tossed into a rotating storm radars can quickly pick up on the difference between the proportions in each item represents. This tool is helpful for when a tornado is confirmed on radar and needs confirmation on the ground.
Rotation Tracker: This is an algorithm that the radar uses to try and find where the most spin in the atmosphere is. Once it recognizes where there is rotation, it tracks the intensity and plots the location. This tool is vital when it comes to seeing if a funnel cloud has made contact with the ground and if it could potentially be strengthening over time.
One of these tools alone can be beneficial. but using the three together helps paint a clear picture of what is happening in real time on the ground.
Using tools like these helps us pinpoint where the worst of the weather is, live on air, so we can relay the most accurate and timely information to keep you and your family safe.