Tornado! A Meteorologist and Her Prediction. (Cover Photo: Courtesy of Delta Education)
(July 20, 2010) - Students across the nation are getting a first-hand look at operational meteorology through the eyes of a National Weather Service lead forecaster in Jackson, Miss. Lynn Burse is the subject of a Seeds of Science Roots of Reading program publication titled Tornado! A Meteorologist and Her Prediction.
The publication keys on the science and procedures the Jackson forecast office employs to monitor and forecast severe weather and how Burse and her colleagues used their technology and expertise to save lives during a devastating tornado outbreak January 10, 2008.
The storm system spawned at least 14 confirmed tornados in Mississippi and Alabama which damaged or destroyed more than 200 homes and other structures. There were 20 injuries with these severe storms and more than 100 reports of wind damage and large hail.
One of the tornadoes ripped through a school complex in Caledonia, Miss. where 155 mph. winds nearly destroyed a gymnasium and a vocational tech building. A football press box and concession stands were also destroyed, 20 cars were flipped, five buses were damaged and a combine harvester was blown into nearby trees. The winds even picked up a school bus and tossed it on top of a building.
Fortunately, more than 2,100 students and faculty had plenty of time to seek shelter in the most secure areas of the school complex thanks to the early warning by the National Weather Service. No deaths and only three injuries resulted. Burse and her colleagues in Jackson had been closely monitoring the storm's development and issued a Tornado Warning for Lowndes County and Caledonia with an extraordinary warning lead time of 41 minutes.
That lead time compares with a national average of 13 minutes for Tornado Warnings. Local emergency managers all agreed the early warning saved many lives.
Aside from the dramatic events of the tornado outbreak, Tornado! A Meteorologist and Her Prediction offered an opportunity to provide an entertaining and educational look at operational meteorology as practiced in 122 National Weather Service forecast offices throughout the country.
Partially supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation, the work was published by Delta Education, a member of School Specialty Science. It is one of a series of science-related publications designed for the nation's school systems. For more information about the series, visit: http://www.deltaeducation.com/seeds/readers.shtml#weatherwater.
Tornado damage at Caledonia school complex (Photo: Brian Peters, ABC-3340 TV, Birmingham, Ala.)