"People with a smart phone can tell the weather service exactly what they're seeing at their house." -Greg Goodrich, Director of Meteorology Department, Western Kentucky University
BOWLING GREEN, KY - 15 years ago Tuesday, Scottsville Road in Bowling Green laid desolate and dark. The unusual state of the normally busy street was totally turned upside down by a bombardment of hail. Five inches of rain came along with the hail adding another degree of chaos to the already crazy day. High winds blew newly sprouted leaves into the streets and into the gutters of drainage systems. As a result, normally drained water sat on top of parking lots and roads. Signs of that fateful day still exist on the bodies of many cars around South Central Kentucky.
Much of the area was turned upside down by a storm that brought inches of rain and bludgeoning hail, but thanks to technology a dangerous situation was made a bit safer.
"Just prior to the hail storm we implemented the first of the community outdoor warning sirens. We had ten implemented at the time. They were credited with saving a lot of lives that day." said Ronnie Pearson of Warren County Emergency Management.
A lot has changed over the past 15 years and there is no greater example of that than weather forecast technology. Devices like Doppler radar are now greater than ever at predicting dangerous storm outbreaks like softball sized hail so you can be better protected.
"The conventional radar that existed back in that time period only allowed us to see precipitation in one dimension. You didn't know if it was rain snow or hail. Only the size of the droplet told you what you were looking at. Now with dual polarization radar we can actually see the precipitation in two dimensions." said Greg Goodrich, who is the director of the meteorology department at WKU.
Technology hasn't just changed in weather centers, it's also changed in the palm of your hand, which is allowing everyone to do their part in preparing for severe weather outbreaks.
"There's now a big project by the national weather service called the PING project, which is precipitation identification on the ground, where people with a smart phone can tell the weather service exactly what they're seeing at their house. Then we can use that information to compare to what we're seeing on the computers and that helps then in turn, improve the information we're getting from the radar." added Goodrich.
Severe weather isn't slowing down as the heat of summer is on its way. Neither is technology; which will allow you to stay up to date and hopefully out of harm's way.