Tired of complaining about the weather? Want to do something about it? Here’s your chance.
Learn to spot and report storms that are developing hail, damaging winds, funnel clouds or waterspouts. Classes will be held Sept. 28, Oct. 19 and Nov. 2. More than 3,000 “storm spotters” already are working with the National Weather Service, Charleston in across its 20-county region in South Carolina and Georgia. There’s never too many.
Spotters provide that vital “ground truth” verification of what meteorologists suspect they are seeing on the screens — helping to broadcast watches and warnings quicker and more accurately. The volunteers include professionals like emergency workers, hobbyists like HAM radio operators and people who are simply interested in the weather.
“They are our eyes and ears. Despite the technology, the Doppler radar, the satellite imagery, the computer modeling, nothing beats a human being looking out and spotting the weather,” said weather service meteorologist Ron Morales, who teaches the class. “That’s the misconception that I think most people have: ‘Oh, we’ve got this fancy equipment. We can see everything.’ That’s just not true. It’s a very difficult science.”
The class is free; the program is volunteer. Spotters will be taught how to evaluate conditions and estimate details like the size of hail or damages from wind, as well as how to report by phone, e-mail or twitter. A basic and a more advanced class will be offered. Completing the basic course is required in order to take the advanced course. The advanced course teaches more about the meteorology behind changing weather conditions.
Spotters are so valuable that when severe weather threatens and forecasters don’t have reports, they will call individuals who live in its path to make that eyes-and-ears check, Morales said.
“The ground truth, the observable data, is still irreplaceable,” he said.
SKYWARN Weather Spotter classes
Tues., or Oct. 19, 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m., Charleston County Emergency Operations Center, 3rd floor of the Public Services building, 4045 Bridgeview Dr., North Charleston.
Advanced class: Nov. 2, 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m., Charleston County Emergency Operations Center, 3rd floor of the Public Services building, 4045 Bridgeview Dr., North Charleston.
No fee. To register, call James Tartar, Charleston County Emergency Management training coordinator, 843-202-7405, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org