Analysis and Comparison of The Weather Channel’s Storm:Con and Tor:Con

With the chance of severe weather this weekend for the eastern Midwest, I figured a quick analysis of The Weather Channel’s Tornado Conditions Index would be fairly on-topic. TWC’s Tornado Conditions Index, commonly known as the Tor:Con, was developed by TWC’s severe weather expert, Dr. Greg Forbes. As stated on the Tor:Con’s webpage, the Tor:Con serves as an estimate of the risk for tornadic development within a certain radius. The Tor:Con’s scale runs from 0 to 10, which when multiplied by 10, gives the percent chance of the development of a tornado within 50 miles of a location. When the Tor:Con value is zero, the index is suggesting a minimal to nonexistent chance of tornadic development. However, the higher the Tor:Con value, the higher the risk is for tornadic activity.

Although the Tor:Con is a fairly downplayed analysis of computer models, it does a decent job of describing the risk to the general public. The Tor:Con is very easy to understand, while some of the model imagery can be extremely confusing to those who are not used to such technologies. For example, please compare the following links below – then decide which is easier for you to understand. The forecasts are current as of Nov 15, 2013 for the possible severe weather event forecasted for Sunday, Nov 17th. As with anything in the meteorological world, they are subject to change.
TWC’s Tor:Con
Significant Tornado Parameter (STP)
SPC’s Convective Outlook

With the success of the Tor:Con, The Weather Channel debuted the Storm:Con in the winter of 2012. Storm:Con was one of the three winter-related products that were released by TWC in 2012, along with the controversial winter storm names. The Storm:Con focuses on the impact of a winter storm on major cities, while the Tor:Con was more of a regional analysis. Storm:Con has the same 0-10 scaled index and is also based on computer-generated models. However, the final index value is “adjusted by evaluating subjective factors that influence societal impact.” This makes the Storm:Con more of a human-assumption than a science-based model, which has also introduced controversy in the meteorological world.

With the comparison of the Tor:Con and the Storm:Con, many give the gold medal to the Tor:Con. The Tor:Con does a decent job of matching the actual models and focuses on regional risk instead of localized impact. The Storm:Con is biased towards large cities and impact on travel rather than a complete focus on modeled  precipitation, wind, and temperature factors. Additionally, with the difficulty of forecasting winter systems, the accuracy levels of the Storm:Con and Tor:Con are considerably different. Regardless of what the science says, it is up to the viewer to discern such information to their personal use and decision-making. Just as one would do for news, the more information that is examined creates a better analysis of the threat.

On a personal note, I am asking of my followers and viewers to participate and share my survey regarding the use of social media to disperse vital news, weather, and emergency information. This survey is part of my research project for an honors contract at my college and I am hoping to collect at least 500 responses. The survey is a quick ten questions and should only take about two to three minutes. Thank you in advance!
Link to survey: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1hJ2SNBwvh_jPXQjJC2skbdhNXD5nTwr_xsG3CuPSm2I/viewform

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