Federal researchers at NASA are studying how lightning bolts may help Iowa forecasters get a better jump on spotting tornadoes. The space agency is studying lighting using high-powered cameras in orbiting satellites. They found cloud-to-cloud lightning dramatically increases as tornadoes develop. Researchers want to more accurately pinpoint twisters and immediately send the data to the National Weather Service.Steve Roy is a spokesman for NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. He says Iowans have as much as 12 minutes warning now before tornadoes hit — but sometimes NO warning at all. Roy says the satellites could help better identify tornado-producing storms, before tornadoes are spawned.The National Weather Service says 59 tornadoes hit Iowa last year. Several have touched already down this year, at least two last week. Roy says only 30-percent of rotating storms ever produce tornadoes, leading to a lot of false alarms and warnings, lulling the public into ignoring the threats.
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