The National Weather Service says a sophisticated radar system designed to detect tornadoes was not working when a tornado blew through northern Wake County this week.
Raleigh television station WRAL says the doppler system in Clayton has been working sporadically for weeks and weather service officials haven't yet detected the problem.
So as the storm moved across the state, the weather service had to depend on a network of storm spotters called Skywarn. WRAL, however, is reporting a delay in response to the storm spotter's radio conversations.
At 5:57p.m. a storm watcher reported rotating clouds near Clayton. The weather service then issued a severe thunderstorm warning but no tornado warning. Three minutes later, two reports of funnels touching down near Wendell. Again no tornado warning was issued.
Then at 6:14, there was a report of a tornado on the ground in Zebulon. The weather service issued the tornado warning two minutes later, only after confirming it on radar.
Weather officials say they just had to make sure there was a tornado before announcing it.
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