The 24 August 2016 "Surprise" Tornado Outbreak: Part 2
Amos Dodson, National Weather Service Northern Indiana, Syracuse, IN
Todd Holsten, National Weather Service Northern Indiana
Jeff Logsdon, National Weather Service Northern Indiana

Despite tremendous advances in our understanding and modeling of the atmosphere, predictability, particularly for severe weather outbreaks, is not perfect. Some events will still fail to be appropriately anticipated days, or even hours, ahead of time. This presents a particular challenge given increasing vulnerability to severe weather and the need for proper time to prepare.

One such event occurred on 24 August 2016. A tornado outbreak across Ohio and Indiana produced 21 tornadoes. The event was poorly forecast, stemming from a lack of coherent numerical model guidance, but near term trends were effectively monitored and allowed forecasters to rapidly shift focus into warning operations. There were no fatalities and only one minor injury.

Several strategies were utilized by the National Weather Service (NWS) Northern Indiana (IWX) to provide effective impact-based decision support services (IDSS) during this “surprise” event. As part of the IDSS prototype project in the central region of the NWS, several coordination calls were made to emergency management for a local county fair that was within 5 miles of one of the tornadoes. A local volunteer also served as a virtual operations support team coordinator, monitoring reports from chasers in the field and relaying relevant information to the office in an efficient manner through NWSChat (i.e., collaboration software). His timely relay of accurate storm information to the office, along with pictures and video, provided for real-time verification and aided in effective risk communication through impact-based warnings and IDSS.

An after-action review was conducted with all emergency managers impacted by the event. This presentation will discuss the recommendations and best practices related to effective forecast and warning dissemination that were gathered from this review. Results will be presented from an integrated warning team workshop that was hosted by IWX to address the issues identified during this event. Finally, this presentation will share the lessons learned to aid the entire weather enterprise toward effective communication when unanticipated weather events occur.