PLEASANT HILL, Mo. — There have been questions whether a warning could have been issued sooner for a tornado that carved a 14-mile path between Johnson County, Kansas and Jackson County, Missouri Wednesday morning.

A National Weather Service survey revealed the tornado touched down in western Lenexa at 1:10 a.m. It wasn’t warned until 1:21 a.m. when it had already neared Leawood and the Kansas-Missouri state line.

“Having a tornado occur without a warning, it’s just too dangerous, especially at night,” Retired American Meteorological Society Fellow Mike Smith said.

FOX4 has uncovered more details about how that decision was made and some factors that could have led to a delay. Now the National Weather Service says it’s considering changes.

Though they pour over data before storms for hours, in the end it comes down to split-second decisions. The National Weather Service does acknowledge deciding whether to wake up a million people in the middle of the night isn’t easy. Unfortunately Wednesday, technology made it even tougher.

Meteorologists at the National Weather Service early Wednesday morning weren’t expecting tornados to form as storms moved into the area. But by 1:08 a.m. they issued a Severe Thunderstorm Warning, saying a tornado was possible.

“If people are awake they can make decisions based upon knowing that its a tornado possible in a severe thunderstorm warning,” said Julie Adolphson, meteorologist in charge of NWS Kansas City.

But Smith said most people were sleeping as the tornado moved through heavily populated areas for 11 minutes before being warned.

“If they believe a tornado is going to occur they need to put out a tornado warning, that’s what triggers the apps so that people can be awakened when a tornado is imminent and they can get to the basement,” he said.

Smith also says a correlation coefficient showed lofted debris consistent with a tornado at 1:10 a.m. the moment survey teams estimate the tornado first touched down in Lenexa.

“This tells you there’s no question there’s a tornado there,” he said.

But Adolphson said it’s not that simple to detect and there are others factors at play.

“You don’t want to be issuing on every one of those little circulations that you see because you are going to be alerting upwards of a million people in the middle of the night who will not have virtually any impact,” she explained.

At that time of day and with less visual confirmation from spotters, data from radar may be more important than ever. But the National Weather Service said in order to prevent undue wear and tear on its radar system, it’s judicious on when it spins the radar at a faster rate. In this case, it was only getting images every seven minutes instead of every 80 seconds.

Shortly after the change was made to put it in SAILS mode, the warning was issued.

“There’s a lot of factors that go into this decision but ultimately our mission is to protect lives and property so we want to make sure that we are giving the best decision in terms of lead time,” Adolphson said.

For that reason, the National Weather Service says it will likely change its protocols and use that faster radar scan whenever a tornado is deemed possible in a Severe Thunderstorm Warning.