Even with 21st-century technology, predicting tornadoes is still largely a matter of guesswork, reports the New York Times. Scientists know the weather conditions that create tornadoes, but can't accurately say when those conditions will be just right. "There’s a large crapshoot aspect," says a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. "A little quirky thing can set one off at one time, and another time not."
The Dallas-Fort Worth area is trying a different approach to improve forecasting, notes the Times in a separate story. The region will set up a network of small radar devices—like "many pairs of eyes," says one official—in cities and suburbs to better track and monitor fast-moving storms. In theory, that will be an improvement over having one large system trying to do the same job in slower sweeps. Tornadoes often form so quickly, they don't show up on Doppler. (Read more tornado stories.)