Letters to the Editor

BY DI READERS | JUNE 25, 2013 5:00 AM

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Late warning not a warning

On Monday afternoon a line of severe storms swept through Iowa City. I’m very concerned about the amount of time it took the Hawk Alert to be distributed to the university community.

The Storm Prediction Center reports that the average lead time of a tornado warning is 14 minutes. This represents the time difference between tornado-warning issuance to the moment a violently rotating column of air makes contact with the ground from a cumuliform cloud. If all the events from Monday are confirmed, we are looking at an National Weather Service lead time of 15 minutes.

Unfortunately, the Hawk Alert was sent 18 minutes after the first warning went live and three minutes after the tornado developed. The University of Iowa community expects nearly instantaneous Hawk Alert messages for exactly this type of situation. Every lead time second counts in a tornado warning. If the Hawk Alert for a tornado warning isn’t sent out promptly, then it does no good for warning the community to take action to protect life and property.

Scott Rowe
UI graduate student and meteorologist

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