Why was a warning not issued for the Fremont tornado Monday? Expert explains

Weather

FREMONT, Ind. (WANE) – An EF-1 tornado impacted Fremont and nearby locations early Monday morning, but no warning was issued in advance of the storm.

Meteorologist Nathan Gidley reached out to the National Weather Service forecast office in Syracuse and spoke with Warning Coordination Meteorologist Michael Lewis to investigate potential reasons why a warning was not issued.

The process involved with issuing a warning is complex. It involves monitoring atmospheric conditions, the radar and storm reports. Lewis said the environmental conditions were prime for severe thunderstorms overnight, so the Storm Prediction Center extended the Severe Thunderstorm Watch through the night in advance of a line of storms. However, a warning was not issued for Fremont as a tornado spawned from the line.

Why was a warning not issued?

A tornado can form rapidly and dissipate quickly along a line of strong thunderstorms. Individual elements of a line can spin up, which can spawn weak and fast-moving tornadoes at any time. They can be difficult to detect with the technology available, Lewis said.

“You’ll have a radar scan, and then as we’re seeing development, the tornado may form and dissipate before the radar scans through it again. So in the six minutes between one scan and another scan, the storm could actually have formed, developed the tornado, and moved on,” Lewis said.

He added the National Weather Service is implementing a rapid scan feature on the radar to better detect rotation in these storms, but there are still limiting factors. The radar beam can also have trouble seeing what is happening at the surface, as the tilt of the beam increases you travel farther away from the radar.

The process Monday was also complicated by the storms occurring at night and a lack of timely storm reports, Lewis said. This is why having storm spotters and information from the ground is so crucial during severe weather events.

Ultimately, Lewis said it is important to remember the threats presented by a line of storms are serious, regardless of if there is a warning issued by the weather service. Damage can occur from the strong winds and potential embedded tornadoes. If a warning is issued, it means the storm presents a significant threat to life and property.

If you would like to learn more about the tornado that occurred in Fremont and other information about Sunday evening and early Monday morning’s severe storms, visit the National Weather Service Northern Indiana’s website.

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