Right Before Last Night's Storm, "Skywarn" Class Trains Local Storm Spotters

By Morgan Montalvo


As another heavy  weather system approached San Antonio, volunteer weather observers last  evening were refining their meteorological recognition and reporting  skills in nearby Wilson County.

About 30 students  from the La Vernia area, as well as San Antonio, learned about  atmospheric conditions that spawn tornadoes and how to safely inform the  National Weather Service of a twister's location and possible path. The  class was the second part of the "Skywarn" series offered by the NWS.

Larry Hopper, an  NWS meteorologist, says Skywarn classes give students detailed  information on weather patterns, as well as how to identify and avoid  dangerous weather situations. Hopper said the trained observer network  is his agency's eyes and ears in the affected areas, and also assists  local emergency planners with getting out the word when weather-related  sheltering or evacuations are ordered.

"Our job relies on more than just looking at radar," said Hopper. "We take public reports very seriously."

He said the  spotters contribute to "the big picture that we need in order to do our  job and help protect life and property effectively."

Skywarn classes  are usually attended by ham radio operators, Community Emergency  Response Team members, and other trained volunteer responders, but also  attract individuals eager to know what to do before severe weather  strikes.

"You just never  know what's going to happen, so the more educated we can get people, the  better prepared they'll be to take care of themselves and their family  and their neighbors," said Cindy Stafford with the Wilson County Office  of Emergency Management.

Stafford says in  addition to Skywarn classes, people interested in disaster readiness can  attend classes or take online courses offered by the Texas Department  of Emergency Management and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.


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