It all started with the potential for severe weather appearing on long-range weather models. Suddenly, everything changed within a matter of days, and in some cases, hours. In this extended edition of Inside Look, we examine each step in covering this rapidly intensifying system.

Initial Warning Bells…

On March 29, 2023, the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center (SPC), issued a significantly sized enhanced (ENH) risk for a major portion of the Mid-Mississippi valley to the mid-Southern United States.

Immediately, Global Weather & EAS Society staff recognized the significant potential for expansion of this risk, as well as a potential for an increase in severity. In response, GWES retweeted the SPC’s announcement of the ENH risk.

As March 28 came to a close, experienced weather enthusiasts within GWES staff began to see something unexpected. New model runs were showing a significant increase in severe potential.

Warning bells immediately went off within GWES’s Leadership Council, moving them to consider creating a plan.

Planning for an Outbreak…

As time went on, GWES continued to monitor the latest model runs, along with public communications from the SPC. Just as GWES expected, things were looking to worsen, and they knew exactly what to do.

When the “Day2 Outlook Moderate Risk” tweet reached staff members, the team set forth to provide the best possible coverage.

Portions of the Leadership Council were promptly mobilized to determine the best course of action. They ultimately decided on a lengthy live coverage event, a rarity within the community.

GWES staff were immediately notified of the intent to provide the public with live, sophisticated coverage. The coverage plan quickly came together.

Staff filled the necessary roles, including live radar coverage, monitoring new NWS products, managing social media coverage, and providing live commentary.

As time passed, GWES took an unexpected step, activating Special Coverage Mode in the Discord server a full day earlier than most other weather/EAS servers.

Experienced weather enthusiasts within GWES knew this event would be historic regardless. But as GWES inched closer, things seemed to worsen significantly.

Covering the Beginnings…

On the morning of March 31, media outlets immediately began covering the moderate risk SPC had given in the early morning hours, as the risk area began to grow based on short-term model runs.

The originally two separate moderate risk areas closed in on each other overnight, bringing many more people under the storm’s sights.

At exactly 10:00 a.m. CDT, live coverage began in the GWES Discord server, along with live social media coverage on Twitter.

Cloud cover was expected to be the main inhibitor of the severe potential of the event. But, as the day went on, the clouds were not present. This left a hole in the sky, allowing for a further increase of the severe weather risk.

Hosts of the live coverage immediately noticed this, and became concerned about the maximum severe potential of this system.

To the hosts, this series of discussions were not surprising. The SPC acknowledged the increased risk potential, and confirmed to the weather community that this would be the first High risk day since March 25, 2021, let alone with two separate risk areas.

The hosts biggest fear for this event was realized. This would potentially shape up to be a historic system, question was, how bad would this be? The suspense grew as the hosts awaited the new Day 1 HIGH risk announcement.

As conditions quickly became more favorable for severe weather, our hosts became hyper-focused on the now, instead of focusing on the later.

First Taste of What’s to Come…

“When is the first Tornado Watch going to come out?” was a thought that frequently arose during the early stages of covering the event.

That question was answered quickly. The first watch of the day would include the Particularly Dangerous Situation (PDS) language. PDS Tornado Watches are a heightened version of a normal Tornado Watch, suggesting strong tornados. To learn more, click here.

Throughout the course of the day, multiple other PDS Tornado Watches were issued, bringing millions under the scope of this storm.

Starting off HOT…

Tornado Emergency for Little Rock, AR. Something we all didn’t want to see. A confirmed and extremely dangerous tornado was found on the ground before tearing through portions of Little Rock. At the time, GWES was unaware of the potential damage that was caused.

This system as a whole produced a Tornado Emergency early in the day. The main severe potential was still hours away at the time.

Covering the Catastrophic Damage…

While the live coverage hosts continued covering intense storms, the GWES Social Media team was hard at work finding, and sharing damage reports from impacted areas.

In the End…

Our live coverage ended around midnight CDT, tallying up a whopping 14 hours of continuous coverage, with many more hours on our social platforms to come.

According to the Iowa Environmental Mesonet, a grand total of 215 Tornado Warnings, and many, many more Severe Thunderstorm Warnings were issued during this single event, making it the sixth highest number for issued Tornado Warnings since it was recorded (2002).

If I wrote about every storm, we would all be here for hours. It was quite an event and one that many enthusiasts will remember for the rest of their lives.

In short, the entire weather community provided, subjectively, amazing coverage of this event, and sharing the impacts that it caused. Our members within GWES helped us significantly, and we thank you for all the support that you have given us, especially in high-stress scenarios like this.

If you would like to help tornado victims, please consider donating to the American Red Cross by clicking here.

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