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Skywarn Training Classes Spring Up in the Area

March 8, 2014

First off, a friendly reminder to turn forward your clocks an hour tonight (Saturday, Mar. 8) before going to bed, as Daylight Savings Time begins tomorrow morning (Mar. 9) at 2 AM.

Though it may not feel like it for many of us quite yet, spring is just around the corner. This arrival has certainly been long-awaited by many. However, with it comes the return threat for severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, flooding rain, and the other forms of hazardous weather that come with the warmer weather in spring and summer.

And also coming with spring is the arrival of annual skywarn storm spotter training classes once again around our area. For those of you that are not familiar with skywarn, it is an all-volunteer network of weather observers around the nation, trained and coordinated by the National Weather Service. “Spotters,” as they are called, attend a training session put on by their local NWS office in the spring. They are taught about the different forms of hazardous weather that come with the warm severe weather season, and also how to correctly and safely recognize, identify, and report these hazards to the NWS. Then, throughout the year, whenever these spotters encounter severe weather, they can give their trained-eye reports to the National Weather Service.

Radar and other weather tools used today are all extremely valuable, but nothing beats a pair of trained eyes out in the field to give the NWS a clear picture of what is going on. These reports can help in the issuance and verification of warnings, and can make warning lead time longer to help others in their community. It is not tying you to any commitments to be solely helping the NWS when bad weather arrives; just go about your daily routine, and report anything you see that meets reporting criteria.

Skywarn spotters come from a wide array of fields. Ham operators, police and fire personnel, emergency management personnel, weather enthusiasts, and those simply interested in helping their community are among the groups that often attend the sessions. They are always free and open to the public, and they are always a fun evening for anyone that even remotely enjoys the weather.

Here are the times, dates, and locations for upcoming skywarn classes in the Erie area:

Crawford County, PA: Monday, Mar. 17, 6:30 PM, at St. Brigid’s, 383 Arch St., Meadville, PA. NWS Cleveland.
Chautauqua County, NY: Monday, Mar. 24, 7:30 PM at WCA Hospital, 207 Foote Ave., in Jamestown, NY. NWS Buffalo.
Erie County, PA: Tue., Apr. 01, 6:30 PM, at Hamot Hospital auditorium, 201 State St., in Erie, PA. NWS Cleveland.

Additional dates and locations for other area counties, or for just about anywhere in the country, can usually be found on your local National Weather Service office home page.

If you have any comments or questions on Skywarn or regarding upcoming sessions in your area, please feel free to contact me. I strongly recommend this course for all of us, so we can help out the National Weather Service!

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