ABOUT TORNADOES: A tornado begins with a thunderstorm cloud, which can build up a lot of energy. If this energy creates a particularly strong updraft of air, it will form a vortex, much like how a whirlpool forms in a draining bathtub. The air is pulled toward the center in a spiral, forming a tornado under the thundercloud. Wind speeds can reach 200 to 300 MPH, and if the dangling vortex touches ground, the combination of the whirling wind's speed, the updraft, and pressure differences can cause severe damage. The path of a tornado is determined by the path of the parent thundercloud, but it will often appear to hop (called a "jumper"). This occurs when the vortex is disturbed, causing it to collapse momentarily and reform.
WHAT IS THE COMMON ALERT PROTOCOL (CAP)? CAP serves as a universal adapter for alert messages, replacing the diverse warning systems with a standard format,. It is essentially a "content standard": a digital message format suitable to all types of alerts and notifications, including the U.S. National Emergency Alert System, the Internet, and systems designed for multilingual and special-needs populations. CAP reduces the barriers of technical incompatibility. The sender can activate several different warning systems at once, reducing the cost and complexity of having to notify each system separately. People hear the warnings from several different sources, increasing the likelihood that they will heed those messages, rather than dismissing them as false alarms. CAP is compatible with broadcast radio and TV, as well as public and private data networks and should allow users to monitor local, regional and national warnings of all types at any one time to get a complete picture of conditions.
WHAT'S THE FORECAST: Weather forecasting is the application of science and technology to predict the state of the atmosphere for a future time and a given location. Humankind has attempted to predict the weather since ancient times. For millennia people have tried to forecast the weather. In 650 BC, the Babylonians predicted the weather from cloud patterns. In about 340 BC, Aristotle described weather patterns in Meteorologica. Chinese weather prediction lore extends at least as far back as 300 BC. Ancient weather forecasting methods usually relied observed patterns of events. For example, it might be observed that if the sunset was particularly red, the following day often brought fair weather. This experience accumulated over the generations to produce weather lore. Today, weather forecasts are made by collecting data about the current state of the atmosphere and using computer models of the atmospheric processes to project how the atmosphere will evolve.
The American Meteorological Society contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.