For several years, the National Weather Service has held weather spotters classes in Bradley County.
Bradley County is designated as a “Storm-Ready” community through the NWS. Plans are being made for the third annual Severe Weather Awareness event at Ace Hardware.
On Thursday, NWS will hold SkyWarn Spotter’s Training and Recertification for area residents interested in the local weather.
The Cleveland-Bradley County Emergency Management Agency’s Auxiliary Communications Service weather spotters will be in attendance to recertify. Other members of the community and general public are expected to attend their first training and possibly join the ranks of those who already “keep an eye to the sky” in the event of severe or threatening weather.
The ACS is a volunteer organization that utilizes ham radios to gather and cross-reference information from weather spotters. ACS is under the CBCEMA umbrella of services.
“Each spring the two organizations team up to enlist local residents who wish to become a part of the SkyWarn program, a network of trained volunteers in communities across the U.S. During severe weather events, they provide eyewitness reports to the NWS,” said Bob Gault, information officer for ACS and Cleveland Amateur Radio Club.
“Spotter reports are crucial in the gathering of potentially life-saving information. Doppler radar lets forecasters look inside a storm cell several hundred feet above the ground, but leaves a gap in coverage at ground level. This is where reports from trained spotters provide key information,” Gault said.
Material covered in the basic storm-spotting class takes participants through most aspects of severe weather including thunderstorms, gauging the size of hail, lightning, how tornadoes form and flooding. Also covered is the function of spotters, staying safe, what should be reported and how timely reports are submitted to the Morristown NWS office. Equally important is what spotters should not report, according to Gault.
“A significant role in SkyWarn is held by amateur radio operators. Their communication systems put them in direct contact with the Morristown office using strategically placed two-way repeater stations. The link is also used to relay significant information from forecasters back to members of the spotter network monitoring the local severe weather net,” Gault said.
The presentation lasts approximately two hours and is open to anyone from the local area with an interest in weather and a desire to help in this public service effort.
The class is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Beach wing of the Lee University Science Building, located on the corner of Ocoee and 15th (Billy Graham Avenue) Streets. Pre-registration for the class is not required.
Persons attending receive two-year certification in the SkyWarn program. Additional information can be obtained by contacting CBCEMA at 728-7289, or by visiting www.bradleyco.gov and clicking on the EMA link.
The Severe Weather Awareness event will be held April 6. According to Curtis Cline, administrative officer for CBCEMA, 100 weather radios will be available for residents who qualify.
Details of the event will be announced later, according to Cline.