WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The National Weather Service is clearing the air about yesterday’s funnel cloud over Wilmington.
UNCW alerted students by issuing a tornado warning, even though one was never issued by the NWS.
The storm cell caused a lot of ruckus in Wilmington monday, but with the wild weather there was some confusion.
No warning from the National Weather Service, but a tornado warning from UNCW? So what happened?
“We had our radar operator interrogate the storm,” NWS Meteorologist in Charge Michael Carapolo said. “We did notice some rotation basically at the base of the cell. It wasn’t a thunderstorm, so that was our first clue to indicate whether it was tornadic or not. So the radar operator, he’s in touch with the Doppler radar, and he’s using all the tools available to him to make that decision. So in his mind, it was going to be pretty much not a threat.”
Because the meteorologist did not believe a tornado would touch down, the National Weather Service instead issued a statement alerting the public of possible funnel clouds, which do not touch the ground.
At UNCW, they went for a pre-scripted tornado message, in order to get out a message ASAP. In the essence of time, the NWS says that’s OK.
“The events of yesterday, as far as them putting out a tornado warning for the campus, we don’t have an issue with that,” Carapolo said.
Still, this disconnect may have created some confusion around town. Now, the weather service is working with UNCW to create more of these “ready-to-go messages” for situations like funnel clouds, so that they can alert the public quickly and accurately.
The National Weather Service says you should always use caution when spotting a funnel cloud like yesterday. Even though they may be weak, they can still produce winds as high as 60 mph, which is enough to produce minor tree damage.