COVID-19 pandemic limits how NWS crews survey storm damage

joelton storm damage
Posted at 10:57 PM, May 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-06 00:01:08-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn (WTVF) — May is part of severe weather season. It's a busy time for meteorologists at the National Weather Service Nashville. The pandemic has changed how scientists go out and do their jobs, but they say they're making it work.

Krissy Hurley and the other meteorologists at NWS confirmed nearly a dozen tornadoes on Tuesday in Tennessee.

Any other year, Hurley would be out with the damage for every area the storms hit, no matter how big or small.

"We go out in the field a lot of times and survey the damage to determine whether a tornado or front-line winds caused the damage," Hurley said.

But as we know, this year like the last is different.

"Unfortunately, with the pandemic, we don't get to get out of the office nearly as much," said Hurley.

Hurley says since COVID-19, sometimes they can't go out and survey the damage from some smaller, weaker storms that leave little to no damage.

"We only have so much staffing so we're a little bit more judicious about the locations that we go and we're very thankful for the help that we get especially from the emergency management community," said Hurley.

Even though they don't always make it out for every severe weather event, Hurley says pictures and videos from the media and County Emergency Management agencies help them assess damages from inside.

"Without them, we will definitely be hurting especially during this pandemic," said Hurley.

Meteorologists say pictures can tell them what you can’t exactly see on the radar a lot of times.