(WKBN) – A violent tornado impacted the city of Huntsville, Alabama 34 years ago on the afternoon of November 15, 1989. This tornado had maximum wind gusts of 125 mph, which resulted in 463 injuries and 21 fatalities.

A broadcast meteorologist by the name of Bob Baron was covering the severe weather event that day and he became aware of the challenges meteorologists faced during that time.

Image of damage from the 1989 Huntsville, Alabama tornado taken by a National Weather Service employee (Courtesy of the National Weather Service).

The tornado largely came without warning due to the lack of radar information available to meteorologists during that time. The only information that Baron had to work with was lightning data from NASA, which did not even show where the tornado was.

After that day, Baron knew that something had to change. A couple of months later, he started Baron Services in Huntsville and started making better weather graphics for television.

The Baron weather graphics are the ones that are used by WKBN and WYTV on a daily basis! These graphics help meteorologists tell the weather story every day and allow quick communication when severe weather strikes.

The creation of Baron Services had another major impact on the Valley. Starting in 2010, Baron Services began upgrading all of the National Weather Service radars, including the ones in Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

The upgrade of the NWS radars included polarimetric capabilities, which allows meteorologists to better track tornadoes, hail and differences in precipitation types. WKBN’s meteorologists use this data every day to track precipitation across the Valley.