SUPER OUTBREAK: 1974 tornadoes changed life-saving technology
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Forty years ago, 148 tornadoes spun across 13 states and Canada.
About a dozen of those were in our area.
Hundreds were killed -- thousands more were hurt.
"I still to this day wonder how come we were spared and so many people weren't," said Brandenbug Mayor David Pace.
In 40 years, the storms haven't changed.
"It's a scary thing and it's something you don't ever forget," said Brandenburg Resident Carol Wood.
But our ability to track them has.
"Today we have amateur radio interface with the weather service, we have text messaging, we have the e-spotter program -- numerous things that we do now with the weather service that speeds the warning issue," said Meade Co. EMA Rod Dodson.
Back then, there was no Doppler radar, there was no way to track winds or estimate intensity of the storms.
We really didn't think about hook echo patterns in those days because the radars weren't that sophisticated," said former National Weather Service forecaster Dave Reeves.
Now we have the technology.
"Our radars are unbelievably more advanced now than they were," said WDRB Chief Meteorologist Marc Weinberg.
With the improved technology, we can actually look inside the storm and see the tornado before it forms.
"The fact that we can get warnings out a lot earlier, the fact that everyone is tied into social media -- you know we are just dialed in. A lot of people are aware," said WDRB Meteorologist Jude Redfield.
"So if 1974 happened again, we would be able to let people know much further in advance," Weinberg said.
The awareness we have now is something that just didn't exist back then.
"In Jan. 1975, Congress released a report stating that lack of warning was the main cause of the loss of life and the massive number of injuries," Dodson explained.
More than 300 were killed and thousands more were hurt.
"Looking back, it's actually turned into a good memory. Believe it or not, because it, I think it allows you to come together as a family, as a neighborhood. It's just a proud moment really," said Crescent Hill resident Brian Denker.
And at least for one, the storm created a calling.
"I chose to stay here and try to improve the county and keep us ready in case another '74 decided to come along and that's pretty much what I've dedicated my life to doing," Dodson said.
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