Meteorologists help train area storm spotters

Weather sessions are focused on helping local officials and other volunteer storm spotters provide accurate severe weather information and remain safe
by Bryan Painter Published: February 9, 2013

National Weather Service meteorologists encourage the public to have several ways to receive severe weather information.

That's also how they are presenting spotter training to emergency management and other emergency responders — in various ways.

For many years the bulk of spotter training by meteorologists from the National Weather Service, Norman Forecast office, was conducted during about 40 sessions in Oklahoma and western portions of North Texas. Now, training is offered through live classes and webinars, primarily in February and March.

The Norman Forecast office is responsible for weather coverage of 48 Oklahoma counties and eight counties in western North Texas. Those are divided into 12 regions and one live class is conducted in each. This is the second year webinars have been used.

“In an ideal world we would be traveling to every town and every city and talking to anybody that was interested in storms, but the reality is we can't do that,” said Rick Smith, warning coordination meteorologist in Norman. “What we found last year is it's much easier for a lot of the spotters to get the training they need with this combination of online training and then some live classes. With these webinars you can sit on your couch and go through them or take them as a group. We had hundreds and hundreds of people last year that did that and we reached counties and groups of people we've never been able to reach before.”

The first of four webinars is scheduled for Feb. 26. The first of the 12 live sessions was held Tuesday night in Guthrie.

The training sessions cover fundamental information that every spotter needs to know, with a focus on safety, identification of key weather features and proper reporting procedures, Smith said.

Keeping people safe

In the Guthrie regional session, participants came from Logan, Lincoln and Payne counties, he said.

David Ball, emergency management director for Logan County and the city of Guthrie, hosted the session.

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by Bryan Painter
Assistant Local Editor
Bryan Painter, assistant local editor, has 31 years’ experience in journalism, including 22 years with the state's largest newspaper, The Oklahoman. In that time he has covered such events as the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah...
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AT A GLANCE

Spotter training

Forecasters from the National Weather Service in Norman conduct storm spotter training sessions each year to help prepare spotters for the upcoming severe weather season.

Most of the training in 2013 will be completed through online modules and live webinars, with live training classes conducted on a regional basis. For information about the 2013 training schedule, go to www.srh.noaa.gov/oun/?n=spottertalk.

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