If you've ever looked up at the sky before a storm and wondered what the heck was going on — take heart; next week will offer you a chance to find out.
The National Weather Service in Fort Worth is partnering with Anderson County’s Emergency Management Office to host a storm spotter training class from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Anderson County Courthouse Annex Room No. 103. The event is part of the area-wide NWS Skywarn preparedness campaign. It is free and open to the public.
NWS Warning Coordination Meteorologist Mark Fox will moderate the program, which will cover the basics of thunderstorm and tornado development and storm structure. Attendants will learn about basic severe weather safety, how to identify severe weather features and how to report information.
Palestine Emergency Management Coordinator Schelby Wells said the class presents a great opportunity for residents to become educated about what to do in a severe weather situation.
“It covers some very, very important information,” Wells said, adding, “the more aware you are of potential circumstances, the more able you are to respond in a safe manner.”
After attending this class, Wells said residents would be better informed to create “emergency plans” for their families in a severe weather scenario.
Incidentally, Wells noted that Fox would present new material in this year's program.
“He specified that there is going to be some new information aside from just the basic class,” Wells said.
The training program is a yearly class offered to persons interested in becoming an area first responder — the storm spotter — who would monitor the weather in emergency situations and report to appropriate agencies. According to the Skywarn website, the program was developed in the late 1960s to promote a cooperative effort between the National Weather Service and communities. The emphasis of the effort is focused on the storm spotter, who takes a position near their community and reports wind gusts, hail size, rainfall and cloud formations that could signal a developing tornado.
“They in turn give that information to the Emergency Management, and we in turn use it to make notifications and notify NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) as to what's occurring here in the county and city,” Wells said.
The national program offers training to counties across the state.
“This is one of the national programs that has not been cut due to budgetary issues in Washington,” Wells said. “So that can kind of let you know how important government at all levels sees this program.”
For more information about storm spotter training, go to www.skywarn.org. For information about severe weather and the National Weather Service, visit the Fort Worth Forecast Office’s website at www.weather.gov/fortworth.