Recent tornadoes showcase need for radar in Charlotte - | WBTV Charlotte

Recent tornadoes showcase need for radar in Charlotte

(Ben Williamson | WBTV) (Ben Williamson | WBTV)

The National Weather Service confirmed an EF2 tornado touched down just east of Statesville Wednesday night, leaving homes damaged or destroyed.

Many people were sent running for cover with little warning.

“As soon as the warning beeped off, 'boom,'” said Mike Lamoureux, whose house was destroyed by the tornado. 

“No sooner than I could get in there, the whole house was shaking,” said Maxine Mitchell, who also weathered the storm.

According to the National Weather Service, a small EF0 tornado touched down briefly in Troutman between 3:20 and 3:25 p.m. A tornado warning was issued for Iredell County at 3:41 p.m. 

The tornado touched down again as an EF2 tornado just east of Statesville between 3:43 and 3:45 in the afternoon.

RELATED: Tornado rips through Iredell County, residents begin clean up

“We cannot wait for someone to die. The evidence is clear that we need Doppler Radar right here in this region - and we are going to get it,” said Congressman Robert Pittenger.

Congressman Pittenger has been vital in getting legislation passed that may possibly bring a Doppler Radar to Charlotte. Currently, the closest radar is in the Greenville-Spartanburg area which is more than 85 miles away from where the tornado hit.

“The problem is the farther you get away from a radar system, the higher that beam shoots. That means it is missing a lot of important information in the lowest two miles of the atmosphere - you can’t see it," said WBTV Chief Meteorologist Eric Thomas.

Thomas also played a key role in getting legislation passed to study and possibly implement a radar here in Charlotte.

RELATED: NC lawmaker introduces bill to get Charlotte Doppler radar

“Ten to 15-minute lead time is what we would like to hit for warnings,” said Thomas.

Thomas believes had a radar been in Charlotte on Wednesday, the warning may have been issued earlier.

“The troubling thing is, once again, the first tornado had no warning. There was damage. And it gets back to the fact that we do not have a powerful radar in the western part of North Carolina,” said Thomas.

Compare that to the eastern part of the state where there are three radars to be utilized.

Charlotte does have a radar at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, but Thomas says that is a much smaller and weaker version than the ones used normally.

President Trump signed legislation earlier this year that will allow a team to study the need and possibility of bringing a Doppler Radar to Charlotte.

“It is 180 days and we are about 38 days into that for the review process. After that they have 90 days to implement the findings,” said Pittenger.

The National Weather Service says the times on their preliminary report are subject to change. They also say they were monitoring a number of storms on Wednesday and that many were showing rotation.

They say they wanted to have the highest confidence before issuing a warning.

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