Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
New index helps Alabama station accurately predict tornadic activity
The Baron Tornado Index (BTI) accurately predicted tornadoes across northern Alabama April 24 and helped to alert viewers of WAAY-TV in Huntsville of thunderstorms that posed the highest risk of becoming tornadic.
Using exclusive BTI technology, which ranks a storm’s tornadic potential on a scale of 0-10, WAAY-TV provided viewers with advanced lead times and an easy-to-understand diagnosis of storm threat and severity. As the BTI increased, the potential for a tornado within the storm grew.
Using proprietary algorithms combined with high-resolution radar data and advanced mesoscale models, the BTI provided an easy, one-glance diagnosis of the storm’s potential tornado threat. The BTI was extremely precise, providing a value based on each individual storm cell.
Shortly after 10 p.m., the same weather system that devastated parts of Mississippi earlier in the day made its way into northern Alabama. At least four tornadoes touched down across Cullman, Marshall and Dekalb counties. At WAAY-TV, chief meteorologist Brad Huffines and weekend meteorologist Dale Bader kept viewers informed with precise information regarding storm arrival times for specific neighborhoods and towns. The BTI was especially useful as the team covered multiple storms simultaneously across its viewing area.
During one specific instance, the storm was headed toward Hyatt, AL. The BTI values had been lingering around 3, then suddenly jumped to 5 and then 7.8. WAAY began warning viewers of the significance of the spike. Both Bader and Huffines began to alert viewers to take cover even before a warning was issued.
The BTI improves situational awareness by enabling meteorologists to monitor the progression of a storm’s development and focus their viewers’ attention on areas that are at the highest risk of a tornado outbreak. During widespread severe weather outbreaks over a large DMA, the BTI allows meteorologists to alert viewers of the storms posing the highest threat of tornadic potential.