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ABC 40 Airs Interview with Zink

WGGB-TV ABC 40 in Springfield has aired an interview with Dr. Michael Zink about the relatively unusual phenomenon of tornados in New England. Dr. Zink is the deputy director of the Research Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA). He cited tornados in Suffield, Connecticut, in 1979 and great Barrington, Massachusetts, in 1995. But the closest and most recent was a so-called “gustado” in 2009 that picked up a tobacco barn in Sunderland and moved it into the middle of Route 47. Dr. Zink said that the technology behind CASA’s network of four Distributed Collaborative Adaptive Sensing (DCAS) radars, now being tested in Oklahoma, would help evacuation people to save lives and property. Watch the video.

Here’s the entire transcript of the spot:

AMHERST, Mass. (WGGB) -- Tornadoes in western Massachusetts and northern Connecticut are nothing new and a team of researchers at UMass continue to research those and other severe weather events.

In 1979 a tornado hit Suffield Connecticut.. On May 30, 1995 a tornado that hit Great Barrington and more recently in 2009 a gustado moved a tobacco barn onto the middle of route 47 in Sunderland.

"These have been single tornadoes not at all to the scale I would say that is it down south very unlikely," said Mike Zink, Engineer Professor UMass Amherst.

UMass Professor and Deputy Director of the Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere Mike Zink studies ways to better understand and predict severe weather events like tornadoes.

"We are looking at new ways to observe weather with networks of radars to track tornadoes in a better way than the existing system," said Zink.

Zinc's team works with four other universities. They have four radars set up close together in Oklahoma. It covers the low atmosphere where current radars cannot because of the earth's curvature.

"Tornadoes are so localized that if you can pin point these events than you kind of in the short term predict the path of a tornado that will help with evacuation prepare people to save lives and property," said Zink.

If they can get the system in place they believe it can increase the warning time for a tornado, which is 12 minutes.

"12 minutes after a siren blows until the tornado reaches that point is not much time to take action," said Zink. (May 2011)