Southern Tornadoes Live Updates: Video, Maps and the Latest News

“Often reporters are the first to arrive at a place after it’s been hit. It’s a difficult experience.”

Patricia Mazzei, Miami office manager

During extreme weather and associated events such as wildfires and floods, we act quickly to get critical information to those who need it, dispatching reporters and photojournalists to the scene.

“Once the storm hits, we try to get as close to the most affected part as possible, as quickly and safely as possible,” said Patricia Mazzei, Miami bureau chief for The Times, which has been covering natural disasters for more than 15 years several major hurricanes.

“In the beginning, you feel like you’re the reader’s eyes and ears,” Mazzei said. “They are not there, your editors are not there. You know you have to take in the sights and sounds and smells and what people are saying and how they are feeling and how it looks and feels to them. And then you have to move out to transmit that information. It is a logistical dance that is very difficult and requires a lot of resources.”

When Mazzei and her colleagues reach a disaster area, they often meet people assessing the damage or helping their neighbors. “You encounter those moments of humanity that just blow your mind,” she said. “By telling their stories, we can let the world know what happened. And people really want the world to know what happened.”

Traveling with law enforcement officers, firefighters, and search and rescue teams can also be essential in helping readers understand the urgency and severity of a storm. Their insights can help reporters summarize the damage the storm caused and understand what it takes to bounce back from a hard-hit community.

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Our reporters and editors reach out to emergency services and forecasters as a disaster unfolds, sometimes stopping by every hour to let readers know where the worst damage is occurring and if they need to be evacuated. But by being on the ground and interviewing the people who are bearing the brunt of the disaster, we can bring readers stories of survival, resilience, and tragedy.

“It’s difficult to convey the panic and immediacy of what people are feeling unless you go into detail,said Shawn Hubler, a National Desk reporter who has covered California floods, wildfires and earthquakes for 40 years. “You will say it was terrifying. And when they say scary, you don’t know what they mean until you do a little investigation and find out that embers the size of a baseball hit their car as they were trying to weave their way across a dual carriageway.”

Reporting on the ground can also lead to some of the most important stories The Times can tell when it comes to holding decision-makers accountable, when warnings are not spoken or heeded, when poor decisions put people or communities at risk, or when long-term ones Planning or infrastructure was inadequate or neglected, which exacerbates the consequences of extreme weather.

For our journalists in the office, the pace of a running weather report can be hectic. Reporting from multiple locations, editors from the National and Express desks simultaneously follow the path of a storm, the problems it causes — including evacuations, power outages and flight cancellations — and how those affected can seek help.

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For events such as blizzards, typhoons, hurricanes and severe weather that could produce tornadoes, our weather data and graphics teams intervene early with forecasts and graphics showing the likely path and intensity of the storms.

Our weather data team is led by John Keefe and anchored by meteorologist Judson Jones. For this team, it’s data, data, data. “Because we’re dealing with this all the time, when there are weird quirks, it’s easier for us to explain,” Keefe said. This allows the team to alert editors to an upcoming weather system.

The team primarily uses data from the National Weather Service, supplemented by other branches of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. And Jones keeps in close contact with scientists from these agencies and with academics who study weather. His expertise allows him to speak their language and interpret their jargon for readers. “My job is to translate that into relevant terms,” ​​he said, “and sometimes filter out what’s not important.”

Our graphics department, led by Archie Tse, takes this information and turns it into maps that track a storm’s path. animated time loops that give readers the scale of the storm; and graphs showing precipitation, wind speed, and storm surge. The goal is to create weather trackers that focus on the aspects that threaten to do the most damage. Tse said a combination of news judgment and design expertise goes into each graphic. “Our maps and visualizations are tailored for our readers to give them the information they need in a clear and concise way,” he said.

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As science directly links extreme weather events to the planet’s rapid warming, our climate unit, which includes more than a dozen journalists, joins our coverage to provide data, visual explanations and insights.

Here are some of the sources we use for extreme weather events.

  • The Storm Prediction Center, Weather Prediction Center, National Hurricane Center, and other departments within the National Weather Service.

  • The European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF).

  • The National Weather Service for the number of people under storm observations, warnings, and advice in the United States.

  • PowerOutage, a website that collects and aggregates data on the number of utility customers without power in the United States and other parts of the world.

  • FlightAware, which displays commercial airline flight cancellations and delays around the world.

These are all publicly available, but we sometimes subscribe to access more data.

We also provide guidance for those who find themselves in the paths of storms and provide ways to prepare for and survive hurricanes, flash floods, and tornadoes.

The weather is new. We treat it with the understanding that it has implications for readers’ lives. And while extreme events start out as breaking news, they often become stories of survival, tragedy, science and accountability.


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