Are Black And Rural Residents In The South More Vulnerable To Tornadoes Due To Radar Gaps?

Weather radar is a vital tool for monitoring severe weather and extreme rainfall. My Master’s Thesis at Florida State University explored the use of early NEXRAD radar data for tracking landfalling hurricanes, and I teach a Radar/Mesoscale Meteorology course at the University of Georgia. As such, a Tweet by Cornell University meteorology student Jack Sillin caught my eye this week as a meteorologist, an African American scientist, and someone who grew up in a rural community. Sillin tweeted the graphic below and said, “Following severe storms through the Southeast this week, it’s been hard not to notice some large gaps in radar coverage of the area.” He went on to suggest that many of those gaps are in areas where significant Black populations live. This set off a debate on Twitter. Of course it did -It’s Twitter and race was mentioned. Here’s my perspective.

Radar coverage in the South and Black population

First off, Sillin’s observation is a fair one. However, people are very uncomfortable talking about race and often exhibit knee-jerk reactions when it is applied in such sit