NWS encourages more to take part in weather spotter course
Posted: Wednesday, March 21, 2012 8:00 pm
PADUCAH, Ky. (AP) — As cleanup continues from an outbreak of tornadoes, the National Weather Service is encouraging more people to become weather spotters.
It’s easy to do — all it takes is participating in a free online class that is open to anyone from high school students to seniors.
Forecasters say trained weather spotters are extremely helpful when severe weather hits and can help save lives.
“It’s all about getting more eyes and ears pointed to the skies,” weather service meteorologist Christine Wielgos told The Paducah Sun (http://bit.ly/wYIeEb ).
The three-hour class teaches participants basic weather monitoring skills, as well as the correct way to report their findings to the weather service.
“If you actually have those reports of golf ball-sized hail or a funnel cloud, as opposed to saying there’s a Doppler-indicated tornado, people take that as a reality and they actually take action,” she said.
The three-hour long webinars are being offered throughout March.
McCracken County Emergency Management meteorologist Beau Dodson said Ballard County weather spotter reports helped forecasters decide to continue a tornado warning into McCracken County during the region’s latest bout with severe weather.
“Those reports helped the weather service have more confidence that their warnings are verified, and it helps them to decide to issue a warning to adjacent counties,” Dodson said. “It’s important for people to understand the information we give them is from them. We use the radar and with that data there’s only so much we know. Pairing with those reports really helps.”
Ballard County Emergency Management Director Anita Bugg said even though emergency crews follow storms as they pass through a county, it’s extremely helpful to have reports from stay-at-home spotters on passing conditions.
Dodson said many spotters can now report weather conditions through social media.
Courses are planned through the month of March.
Information from: The Paducah Sun, http://www.paducahsun.com
Published in The Messenger 3.21.12