Tornado Ripped Through Obion County with No Warning from NWS

Erik Taylor

UNION CITY, Tenn.--- Monday's tornado caught many off guard in Obion County.

Union City was hit the hardest when a tornado raced though the area with no warning.

Radar showed the storm as it began to form southwest of Obion County. Just after 4:45 p.m., the storm, that was moving at 50 miles per hour, left many to take shelter with little notice. The storm continued north and east without a warning until it arrived in Kentucky which is controlled by the Paducah, Kentucky National Weather Service Office.

"This thing developed and spun up so fast, so quick. By the time we got the report something was going on, it already moved off into Kentucky." Ben Schott. NWS Memphis Warning Coordinator Meteorologist, says.

Schott says Obion County sits on the fringe of the Memphis radar site leaving it at risk for missed warnings. With the radar beam over 65,000 ft up, it makes it hard for tornadoes to be detected since many form closer to the surface.

The radar site in Paducah, Kentucky is slightly closer, but not part of WBBJ's warning area which makes it hard to convey any lead time.

"Were gonna investigate and look into exactly why warnings weren't issued. There are some things the radars aren't going to see. Was this one of them," Pat Spoden, Science Operations Officer, NWS Paducah, said.

Spoden and another forecaster surveyed the damage Tuesday morning determining an EF-2 Tornado rolled through the area with peak winds of 130 mph.

Despite little or no warning, no injuries were reported with the exception of a few bumps and bruises.

Thankfully, the severe weather moved east. Unfortunately, Union City sits an a radar dead zone and left to keep a close eye to the skies as well as mobile communication systems for alerts.

If you're interested in taking action on this issue, contact your congressman and ask them to petition for more federal funding for our local weather forecast office in Memphis. The National Weather Service relies on government funds for their technology and staffing, and if this can in anyway be increased, then they can improve their technology to aid their future warning procedures in our neighborhoods.

Congressman Stephen Fincher

Congressman Marsha Blackburn


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