North and Central Texas experienced 40 tornadoes and straight-line wind events last year, resulting in millions of dollars of damage.
With spring and severe weather and thunderstorms only a few months away, the National Weather Service Fort Worth is planning its annual SKYWARN storm spotter class at the Anderson County Courthouse Annex.
The free class, also sponsored by Anderson County Emergency Management, runs from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 15.
Jason Dunn, a National Weather Service meteorologist, told the Herald-Press Friday learning to spot any kind of severe weather – not just tornadoes – is an invaluable asset.
“We get a lot more storms with quarter-size hail or bigger than we do tornadoes,” he said. “Also, a storm with 60 mile-per-hour winds can blow over fences, trees – even a tractor trailer or mobile home.”
The class, for experienced and beginning storm-spotters alike, is open to anyone who wants to learn about severe weather, how to prepare for it, and how to report it to the NWS.
“Waiting until storms are on your doorstep is not the time to start thinking about preparedness.” NWS Fort Worth Meteorologist-in-Charge Tom Bradshaw said.
Larry Davis, a 30-year ham-radio operator who runs the Weather Watchers Anderson County Facebook page, said accurate reporting of severe weather is crucial. The SKYWARN class helps residents learn how to do it.
Just reporting hail doesn't help a lot, he said. Reporting hail the size of a quarter is much more useful and telling.
Dunn said reports from residents have helped the NWS track storms and their severity.
“We can look at images on radar,” he said. “But the reports from people who are actually witnessing the weather's effects is extremely helpful.”
Seating for the SKYWARN class is limited. NWS officials recommend those interested to arrive early.
For more information, call Anderson County Emergency Services Coordinator Christina Crockett at 903-723-7813.
For more information on severe weather, visit http://weather.gov/fortworth