Meteorologists working hard to save lives

By: James Hopkins Email
By: James Hopkins Email

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - Severe weather isn't just responsible for millions of dollars in damage, it can also be life threatening. The main goal for forecasters is to stay one step ahead of Mother Nature to keep you out of harms way.

The Western Slope offers tons of outdoor activities. "Rock climbing, biking and multiday backpacking trips," says avid outdoorsman Jake Bajerski. He says keeping an eye on his surroundings is key. "Keeping track of the thunderstorms that roll through here," is important he says.

Western Slope weather can change in an instant. Severe thunderstorms that can produce large hail and even flash floods can build quickly. "Important thing to do to prepare is to check the forecast ahead of time," says Meteorologist Jim Pringle of the National Weather Service.

According to the National Weather service, forecasters have reduced the tornado death rate by 95 percent, almost completely reduced plane crashes caused by micro-burst downdrafts and have saved ten of thousands of lives from hurricanes. All thanks to technology. "Without the Doppler radar we couldn't see what was going on inside the thunderstorm," says Pringle.

Before the invention of the Doppler radar people only had between five and 10 minutes to prepare for approaching severe weather. "Nowadays it almost doubled that if not more than doubled that," says Pringle.

There are many different tools to help you stay head of the weather. One tool, the weather radio. You can pick one up at most electronic or sporting goods stores for $30 to $50. "Definitely something good to have especially if you're going to be gone a couple of days because the weather changes so fast," says Henry Mollack of Gene Taylor's.

With the latest advancements in technology, forecasters can confidently issue watches and warnings which gives people a sense of security when venturing out. "I don't have the machinery to do that so I have to trust in what they say and roll with it,"says Bajerski.

There's new research on even more advanced technology. The Dual Polarization Doppler radar will give meteorologists quicker readouts meaning even more to prepare. "Significant increase the lead times on our tornado warnings," says Pringle. Because when severe weather hits, every second counts.


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