Severe Weather Warnings: A Behind the Scenes Look

High winds. Hail. Even tornadoes.

It's a part of life in Texoma every spring and despite the drought, severe weather
can still happen.

It's our weather team's job to communicate warnings to all of us.

Just how are those warnings issued, though?

From the crawl at the bottom of the TV screen to text alerts and push notifications
on your mobile device, severe weather warnings are crucial in alerting you about
dangerous storms.

But it takes a team of meteorologists with experience and the proper training to pull
the trigger and officially issue those warnings.

When storms start rolling across the southern plains, it's up to the National Weather
Service (NWS) to issue warnings.

There are 122 weather forecast offices across the US and Texoma falls under four of

The office in Lubbock covers Childress, Cottle, and King counties.

San Angelo covers Throckmorton county.

Fort-Worth looks over our southeastern counties of Young, jack, Montague, and
Palo-Pinto counties.

But the majority of Texoma is covered by the forecast office in Norman, Oklahoma.
This includes all of our counties in southwest Oklahoma and 8 counties in north Texas:
Hardeman, Foard, Knox, Wilbarger, Baylor, Wichita, Archer, and Clay.

Rick smith is the Warning Coordination Meteorologist for the NWS forecast office in Norman.

“It's our responsibility to issues all the tornado warnings, severe thunderstorm warnings,
flash flood warnings and provide other weather information for all those counties including
most of the Texoma area."

In order for a severe thunderstorm warning to be issued, the storm must be capable of producing
winds 58 mph or greater and or hail one inch or larger in diameter.

Tornado warnings are issued when rotation is indicated by radar or a tornado has been spotted
by observers on the ground.

NWS meteorologists use many different sources of information, including storm spotters relaying
information from the field and radar data to determine when thunderstorms become severe.

Once a storm has been identified as severe, the next step is to zone in on the areas that will be

Smith talked us through the process.

"Now we've got a program we use called Warn Gem. It makes it very stream lined the process to issue
a warning. Once we decide we need to issue a warning …let's say look at this storm down here by Waurika
we have a marker that we we drag to the storm to get things started and then we kind of back the storm
up a little ways. . . And that gives us the storm motion. We then get the suggested warned area based
on that storm motion."

And because every second counts, it's important to issue the warning as soon as possible.

"Basically there is no typing involved in most warnings we just pick whether it's radar indicated.
How big the hail is we're expecting. How strong the wind is we're expecting and what we want to
say . . . And pretty much after that we just hit create text and umm then it generates the warning,” says Smith.

And that's when the KFDX 3 Weather Team steps in.

As soon as we are notified of warnings, it is our job to broadcast the information to you.

Whether that's crawls across the screen, cutting into programming, the KFDX 3 Facebook page,
Twitter and the Texoma to go app, we use all the tools available to put you first and keep you
safe in a serious weather situation.

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