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Why Did it Take So Long for Tornado Warning?


It came out of nowhere. 

That's how many people in north-central Connecticut described the tornado that tore through their towns on Monday.

"There was no warning," Katie Swanson, a Windsor Locks homeowner, said.

In East Windsor, Kathy Russotto received an alert on her cell phone just seconds before the storm ripped apart the Sports World dome. It was just enough time to get 30y campers to safety.

"It was huge because otherwise I would have heard the rain and went, 'Oh wind,' and my response wouldn't have been as quick," Russotto said.

So why was there so little warning on Monday?

Here's the timeline, according to the NBC Connecticut Weather Center:

At 1:27 p.m., radar indicated a possible tornado.

One minute later, at 1:28 p.m., a tornado touched down in Windsor.

At 1:31 p.m., The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning, three minutes after the storm was on the ground.

The average time for a tornado warning is 13 minutes, but experts said there is a reason why there was no real heads up on Monday.

"The tornado formation in this type of set-up is going to occur very quickly and very close to the ground," John Bagioni, a local meteorologist, said.

He said the tornado that moved through Windsor, Windsor Locks and East Windsor did not come from a typical super-cell thunderstorm. Those types of storms are easier to detect on radar and usually are slower moving.

Monday's storm was different.

"The signal of rotation is much weaker. It's not at all as enhanced as a super-cell," Bagioni said.

The National Weather Service likely didn't issue a tornado watch because the probability for severe weather was very low, he said. The majority of these types of weather systems never produce tornadoes.

Bagioni said that over-warning the public can also be troublesome.

"The public would be once again faced with that it's just another warning, nothing is going to happen," he said. "It's a fine line."

Bagioni believes there needs to be a lot more research on storms that form in the lower levels of the atmosphere.

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