Nat. Weather Service holds ‘storm spotter’ workshop

Residents of Coweta and Fayette counties on March 12 received a wealth of information on becoming severe storm spotters from preparedness coordinator Barry Gooden with the National Weather Service in Peachtree City. The workshop was held at the Coweta County fairgrounds. Photo/Ben Nelms.

Ever wonder how the National Weather Service (NWS) gets so much information about severe storms to pass on to the public? One way is with a wealth of sophisticated equipment at their disposal.

Another is from people in communities across America who are trained as storm spotters and who relay critical on-the-ground information that is included in the storm warnings. And that is where the NWS SKYWARN storm spotter program comes in.

The March 12 workshop at the Coweta County fairgrounds was conducted by preparedness coordinator Barry Gooden who works with the National Weather Service in Peachtree City. Coweta County Emergency Management Director Jay Jones said the workshop was attended by nearly 70 residents from Coweta, Fayette and surrounding counties potentially interested in becoming a trained storm spotter.

Gooden in the presentation provided numerous tips for the potential storm spotters, adding that NWS staff use radar and other technologies to monitor storm activity off the ground while relying on storm spotters to report the activity at ground level.

“The (SKYWARN) program is for you to report what you are seeing at the time. The National Weather Service sees what’s aloft. The spotter sees what’s on the ground. The spotter provides the ‘when’ and ‘where’ and the NWS determines the ’what’ about the storm. As a spotter, you report anything you feel is important,” Gooden explained.

The workshop handouts included a host of useful websites covering topics such as a preparedness brochure, weather symbols, an online storm spotter course and a storm spotter network website.
For more information visit the SKYWARN website at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/skywarn

For information on the online storm spotter course visit http://www.meted.ucar.edu/training_course.php?id=23