Weather blog: Why SAF-T NET in Bay News 9 Plus is so useful

By Mike Clay, Chief Meteorologist
Last Updated: Sunday, September 28, 2014

When you download the new Bay News 9 Plus app, I encourage you to activate SAF-T-NET. It is a fantastic, exclusive way of keeping you safe in a storm.

You will get quick alerts on storms in progress and storms developing near you. SAF-T-NET uses either fixed locations that you set, such as your home, or it can follow you and work in any part of the country.

Part of the alert is something called the BTI.  What is this?  First some background:

Klystron 9 was built by Baron Services in Huntsville, Alabama. We chose Baron to also build our app so it could “talk” to Klystron 9 and we could show our live radar directly on the app. Most apps use delayed composite national radar. Not ours.

You might remember Baron Service’s owner, Bob Baron. He did the weather on WFLA Channel 8 here in Tampa Bay in the late 80s. Upon returning to Huntsville, he started Baron Services to sell radars and weather equipment to TV stations. We bought our first radar from Baron in 2001 and upgraded to Klystron 9 in 2009.

Bob Baron recently told me he got the idea of SAF-T-NET from his experiences dealing with Florida thunderstorms while working in Tampa.

One of the advances in radar technology in the last few years was the ability for the radar algorithms to judge the potential for a storm to produce a tornado. Baron developed the BTI, or Baron Tornado Index. It is based on a simple, 1-10 scale, with a 1 being almost no potential and a 10 being an extremely serious threat.

BTI values above a 5 or 6 are rare, especially here in Florida, as many of our tornadoes are weak and don’t show a strong radar signature.

So when you see a SAF-T-NET alert and the BTI, it is just a good heads-up to a storm you need to keep an eye on and check with us on Bay News 9 for the latest from our live/local meteorologists.