Tornadoes without warning: What locals, officials have to say about unpredictable weather
South Carolina (WPDE) —
On Tuesday, another tornado struck without warning. This time, the funnel cloud touched down in Robeson County.
Across the Grand Strand and Pee Dee, there have been at least three tornadoes over the past few months that happened after no warning was issued by the National Weather Service.
ABC 15 News dug deeper to find out why tornadoes keep popping up without any warning.
"My wife called me. I was at work, and if it hadn't been for the tone of her voice, I'd have thought she was joking," said Haley Booth, recalling the day of the tornado.
On an overcast day in February, the lives of the Booth family and several others living on Adrian Highway near Loris were changed forever.
"It was just chaos. There was debris everywhere. From buildings that got torn down, there was wood, there was metal, nails," said Booth.
Some say the craziest part about it all is that no one saw it coming.
But, on Tuesday night, it happened again, just in Robeson County instead.
So, why does it happen?
Steve Pfaff, a warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service, says there are two reasons.
"Forecaster judgement. I mean, there are times when they're looking at radar data and other tools where it just doesn't look like it's severe or strong enough to produce a tornado, and I think the other important issue is the limitations we have with radar."
Pfaff says sometimes these tornadoes form below the radar scans, "or the actual rotation in the thunderstorm is occurring below the lowest beam scan that we have."
The tornado on Adrian Highway was an EF-2. The most recent tornado in Robeson County has been classified as an EF-0.
"In Robeson County yesterday, it was one of the smallest storms on the radar with very weak rotation evidence, and yet the bigger storms that we had today with very good rotation didn't produce a tornado at all," he said.
Pfaff says the best way to be ready for these tornadoes is to make sure that your family has an emergency plan in place and, if you happen to be outside when storms are in your area, know what funnel clouds look like so you don't have to wait for a warning.
The National Weather Service recently launched a new satellite that they hope will be a better tool to help catch those smaller storms. Pfaff says it should go online in June.