Tornado in Colorado
Eric Meola
This photo shows a tornado in Prospect Valley, Colorado, on June 19, 2018.

The United States experiences more tornadoes than any other country, with a season that peaks in spring or summer depending on the region. Tornadoes are often deadly, especially in places where buildings can’t withstand high winds.

Accurate advanced warnings can save lives. A study from the University of Washington and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration describes a new way to rate and possibly improve tornado warnings. It finds that nighttime twisters, summer tornadoes and smaller events remain the biggest challenges for the forecasting community.

“This new method lets us measure how forecast skill is improving, decreasing or staying the same in different situations,” said Alex Anderson-Frey, a UW assistant professor of atmospheric sciences. “The tornado forecasting community needs to know what we’re doing best at, and where we can focus training and research in the future.”

She is lead author of the paper published online in December in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

Though the southern and central U.S. see the most tornadoes, every state can experience twisters.  Scientific understanding of tornadoes is biased toward populated places, Anderson-Frey said, where people are more likely to observe and report the events.

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