Last updated: July 24. 2013 2:42PM - 332 Views
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Frank Lewis

PDT Staff Writer

Scioto County will hold a Spotter Training Class with the National Weather Service (NWS) on Thursday April 18 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Southern Ohio Medical Center East Campus at 2201 25th Street Portsmouth in the Gibson Building Conference Room.

The United States is the most severe weather prone country in the world. Each year, people in this country cope with an average of 10,000 thunderstorms, 5,000 floods, 1,200 tornadoes and two land falling hurricanes. Approximately 90 percent of all presidentially declared disasters are weather related, causing around 500 deaths each year and nearly $14 billion dollars in damage.

SKYWARN is an NWS program developed in the 1960’s that consists of trained weather spotters who provide reports of severe and hazardous weather to help meteorologists make lifesaving warning decisions. Spotters are concerned citizens, amateur radio operators, truck drivers, mariners, airplane pilots, emergency personnel, and public safety officials who volunteer their time and energy to report on hazardous weather impacting their community.

Kim Carver, Director of the Scioto County Emergency Management Agency said although NWS has access to data from Doppler radar, satellites and surface weather stations, technology cannot detect every instance of hazardous weather. She said spotters help fill in the gaps by reporting hail, wind damage, flooding, heavy snow, tornadoes and waterspouts.

“Radar is an excellent tool but it is just that, one tool among many that NWS uses,” Carver said. “Spotters are needed to report how storms and other hydrological phenomena are impacting an area. SKYWARN Spotter reports provide vital ‘ground truth’ to the NWS. The spotter acts as the eyes and ears in the field. Spotter reports help meteorologists issue timely, accurate and detailed warnings by confirming hazardous weather detected by NWS radar.”

Carver said spotters also provide critical verification information that helps improve future warning services.

“SKYWARN Spotters serve their local communities by acting as a vital source of information when dangerous storms approach,” Carver said. “Without spotters, NWS would be less able to fulfill its mission of protecting life and property. Effective spotter reports are a critical component of NWS severe weather operations.”

She said an effective spotter report is one that is timely, accurate and full of details. Spotters have guidelines to use when reporting information that are outlined in training held in communities each year. Information is presented on how to determine specific weather formations and how to measure and report ground truth via e-mail, social media and telephone to the Wilmington, Ohio Office of the National Weather Service which is the coordinating office for South Central Ohio.

According to Carver, the NWS Wilmington has a goal of having enough storm spotters in each county to relay frequent reliable information from the safety of their homes or business directly to their office. They issue severe weather warnings for 52 counties across southwestern and central Ohio, northern Kentucky, and southeast and east central Indiana. They have over 3,000 spotters, which is an average of about 60 per county.

Carver said Space for the spotter class is limited and registration is required. To register contact the Scioto County Emergency Management Agency by e-mail at scema@sciotowireless.net or by calling the office at 355-8300 and leaving a voicemail if after hours with the names of who will be attending. Registration deadline is April 15.

Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at flewis@civitasmedia.com. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.

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