Special Report: How our weather technology can save your life

(Toledo News Now) - April 3rd, 1974

Known as the 'Super Outbreak'.

148 tornadoes in total, as many as 15 on the ground at the same time with combined paths totaling over 2500 miles.

All were a record at the time with 8 of those tornadoes hitting our local area. The most famous in Ohio would be the deadly Xenia F-5. The tornado killed 32 people and destroyed around 13-thousand buildings in the city.

The day would spark a technologic and scientific revolution for forecasting severe weather that is still being realized today.

At the time, each tornado warning needed to be hand-typed by the National Weather Service -- A slow process on such a busy day. In fact some warnings weren't received until hours after the storms had already passed.

The 'Super Outbreak' forced a change. Today automated systems assist in delivering warnings in real time. From scrolling at the bottom of your TV screen, to programmed weather radios or straight to your cell phone, warnings are now delivered faster and in more forms that ever before.

After the storms had passed on that fateful Wednesday the damage revealed many never studied before features. In particular from the Xenia storm, microburst and downdraft damage was surveyed by aircraft. The findings would modernize storm anatomy.

And today, those destructive straight line winds are well recognized on severe weather days.

Arguably, the biggest change has come to radar. In the 70's most warnings were tied to someone actually spotting the tornado on the ground. Today Doppler radars like StormTrack Doppler allow us to look inside the storm.

Peel back the layers of rain and detect rotation BEFORE it forms into a tornado.

3-D technology now lets us analyze storms in a way that was pure science fiction during the 70's. It's a big reason why tornado warning lead time has increased from 2-3 minutes during the outbreak to near 15 today.

The 'Super Outbreak' will forever be the benchmark for local tornado outbreaks. Each storm has its own fingerprint-- from the storms in 1974 to late November tornadoes in 2013 – our StormTrack Weather Team uses decades of records, to be better prepared for the next time severe weather strikes.

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