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What does the National Weather Service in Tulsa do?

Tour of Tulsa National Weather Service office
Posted at 8:38 AM, Mar 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-30 20:20:18-04

TULSA, Okla. — Meteorologists and weather experts aren't only working on TV to keep people safe.

Others work in offices like those at the National Weather Service in Tulsa.

2 News Oklahoma got the first public look inside the office since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic as few people get the chance to see its operations floor. The people in the office create forecasts, but they're the only agency that can issue official Watches, Warnings and Advisories.

"We have two positions that are here 24/7 — one looking longer range, one shorter range," says Meteorologist-in-Charge Steve Piltz.

"The shorter-range person is actually making flight forecasts for the airports in the region and those folks are looking at all the weather data and then when we have severe weather we bring in extra staff and we can begin to fill in extra positions and special analysts looking at the small-scale details that may signal when a thunderstorm may go from strong to severe," Piltz says.

Tulsa's office is responsible for all of eastern Oklahoma and northwest Arkansas.

The radar data 2 News Oklahoma meteorologists use and what's on our Storm Shield app and website comes from a network of Weather Service radars spread out across the country. Two of those radars are located in our region and transmit information back to the National Weather Service office.

We have both the radar here that is just east of Tulsa that is Inola," Piltz says. "There is also a radar in Ft. Smith. So we control both of those."

The National Weather Service also gives ratings to tornadoes after they hit an area. They're the only entity allowed to officially rate tornadoes using the EF Scale.

"After tornadoes impact the region, we will go in there and look around and basically officially assign the EF Scale rating to it," Piltz says. "We go in there and make that determination by looking at the pattern of the damage and if it's something special we may even check with an engineer, but in the end our job is to come up with that number everyone is curious about once the tornado occurs.

Another part of the office is the Arkansas-Red Basin River Forecast Center where meteorologists and hydrologists monitor the rivers and creeks throughout Oklahoma, as well as a coverage area including portions of Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri and Texas. They work alongside the National Weather Service to provide river and flood forecasts and flood warnings.

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