National Weather Service - Fort Worth TX
All photos copyright ©2003 Tim Vasquez

This is a short series of digital photos that illustrates warning operations during the tornadic storm that tracked from Jones to Palo Pinto County on the evening of May 15, 2003.

At around 7 pm Thursday, lead forecaster Alan Moller (left) and aviation forecaster Shane Snyder (right) are working together to determine where the cap will break. Shane focuses on the upper-level charts, particularly the 700 mb map and the soundings, while Alan concentrates on the surface plots. After completing their analyses they discussed their findings.

Alan Moller digs into the data on the 01Z plots. The position of the warm front is not all that clear, and every shred of data counts. The box lunch and Dr. Pepper are ready to be devoured on short notice!

The Fort Worth office, being somewhat of a model of effective warning forecasting, is always in the media spotlight. Here a camera crew from Germany's ProSieben is shooting a documentary on severe weather. They spent about an hour here and had the staff stage a tornado warning. Curiously if they had stuck around a couple of hours they would have seen the real thing unfold.

The big board. This large plasma-display screen, measuring about five feet wide, is so darn big, well, that it's actually useful. (Here, you can get your own for $15,000). At a glance we can see all the radar echoes, watch boxes, and warning paths. Some team consultations are made underneath this screen. The Jones County storm has just fired, and we will see its evolution in the following photos.

Warning forecaster Gary Woodall checks the scan strategy of the Fort Worth NEXRAD (Unix box at extreme right) while monitoring the Jones County supercell. Glancing at this he can get some idea of when the next scans of the storm will arrive. The black monitor in front of him is used to interrogate and analyze radar data, while warnings are prepared on the two computers further down the table.

Manning the SKYWARN liaison desk is Rick Sagers, W7YC. He volunteers his time to maintain contact with the area spotter networks. He is the conduit through which information is channeled between the warning meteorologist and spotters in the field.

Around 9:45 pm, the mesocyclone is heading straight for the Dyess radar site. There is a bit of tension over the next fifteen minutes as the staff worries about the site. This is the actual computer where the tornado warnings are laid out geometrically (see nodes and mesh ahead of storm, and the dialog box at left where terminology is chosen from a menu). Once the warning is "fixed" it is routed to a computer to the left (see below) that holds the text content, where the forecaster edits and transmits the warning.

Gary Woodall is a blur as he moves to the radar while typing up a warning. The "geometry" computer in the previous photo is at the extreme right edge of this photo, and the actual warning text is typed up on the computer seen near his left hand. In the background, meteorologist Chris Robbins spends his time as an assistant to Gary, helping to interrogate the storm for additional details.

Warning forecaster Gary Woodall examines the Shackelford County storm using the 4-panel storm-relative velocity display. Unfortunately with the storm over the radar site, all the slices intersect the storm far too low, and Gary must call on the help of the Fort Worth NEXRAD site to look at higher elevations of the storm.

This photo shows a little better the working relationship between warning forecaster Gary Woodall (foreground) and SKYWARN liaison Rick Sagers (background). There is a lot of talk back and forth here as information from the spotters is passed to Gary, and information is relayed back to the field.

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