The SPC Archive and the Tornado History Project

One of my favorite recently added features of the site (see Major Upgrade to Tornado History Project 7/19/08) is the ability to easily correlate each tornado in the Tornado History Project database to the original line (or lines) in the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) archive. Why is this important? It is not uncommon for users to email me with a comment such as:

The county listed for tornado X is wrong. It should be Y – I know because it hit my house. Why don’t you do a little research before putting this on the internet?.

Yikes! While I want to know when there is a suspected error in the data, I also want to be clear where the information comes from. So, this will make it much easier to tell if the Tornado History Project is accurately reporting the data as given in the original SPC archive. In short, it adds transparency to the site and takes the mystery out of where the data comes from. And in cases where the Tornado History Project has changed any of the data (which is very rare), notice is given.

Let’s take a look at where you can find this info. On any individual tornado map page, all stats for that tornado are shown in an easy to read format immediately under the map as shown in the picture below. The last line of the section shows the actual text from the SPC archive used to generate those stats.

Of course, being able to actually see the original line from the SPC archive isn’t quite enough. It is also important to know how to read and interpret the information. So, a link is also given to the SPC instructions that explains what each piece of information actually means.

I should point out that there is one situation in which the approximate path shown for a specific tornado may not actually be based on the data in the SPC archive. Please see a previous blog entry (Enhanced Paths Explained 7/19/08) for more information.

And finally, there is one more note on this…Users must be logged in to see the corresponding line (or lines) from the SPC archive, so if you don’t see anything it, just login or register for a free account and you’ll be all set.