Changes over the years in tornado-warning performance in the United States can be modeled from the perspective of signal detection theory. From this view, it can be seen that there have been distinct periods of change in performance, most likely associated with deployment of radars, and changes in scientific understanding and training. The model also makes it clear that improvements in the false alarm ratio can only occur at the cost of large decreases in the probability of detection, or with large improvements in the overall quality of the warning system.

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NOAA/National Severe Storms Laboratory, Norman, Oklahoma