Rend Lake College will host basic training sessions next month for people wishing to become volunteer storm spotters for the National Weather Service.
The National Weather Service relies on trained volunteers to supplement Doppler radar information on severe storms and tornadoes. These dedicated individuals volunteer many hours of their time to learn about and detect severe weather. Their valuable cooperation is important in the warning process. Weather reports from trained spotters are used along with Doppler radar data to issue warnings of tornadoes, severe thunderstorms and flash floods.
Most spotter training is conducted from January through March, in preparation for peak severe weather season. These classes are free of charge and are open to anyone who has an interest in severe weather and/or public service. The objective of the training is to provide the knowledge to identify and report key severe weather features.
The classes contain some of the latest exciting video footage of recent violent tornadoes. Emphasis is placed on recent severe weather outbreaks in our region, including the tornado outbreaks in May 2003 and 2004.
Skywarn Spotter basic training sessions will be held at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21, in Science Building Room 122 at Rend Lake College. All course materials are provided and certificates of completion will be issued to participants at the end of the two-hour session. For those interested, Skywarn does offer advanced spotter training, but it is highly recommended that anyone interested complete the basic training first.
The training schedule is subject to change. Contact Leslie Hodge at Rend Lake College at (618) 437-5321, Ext. 1418, for details, including any changes to the meeting time or place. The spotter training program is coordinated by Rick Shanklin, Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the Paducah NWS Office. Shanklin can be reached at (270) 744-6440.