Jackson County officials say new radar allows more time to prepare when storms turn dangerous

Jackson County emergency management officials explained how earlier information is vital in a severe weather situation.

Posted: Oct 12, 2020 4:39 PM
Updated: May 4, 2021 10:59 AM

Jackson County emergency management officials explained how earlier information is vital in a severe weather situation.

"Looking back, probably the worst day I'd ever worked. That day," said Captain Marty May.

May remembers responding to the tornado outbreak on April 27, 2011. It killed eight people in Jackson County.

With WAAY 31’s new Early Warning Radar Network, we can see inside a storm faster and tell you as soon as it becomes a dangerous situation.

"That tornado just stayed on a freight train all the way through Rosalie and then Higdon, then over into DeKalb County into Georgia," said May. 

Current Jackson County Emergency Management Director Paul Smith was working as a deputy at the time.

"Unfortunately, when you see the kind of damage that we saw on April 27, you know that someone was injured, or worse killed," said Smith. 

In Jackson County, the National Weather Service's radar in Hytop takes anywhere from 4 to 6 minutes for every scan. Our Early Warning Radar Network takes just 1 minute to scan, giving you more time to prepare.

"Having a better look at these storms is exciting," said Smith. 

Smith said it’s especially important in planning when to go to a safe place.

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