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Storm spotters sought

By Robert Hudson

The Selma Times-Journal

The National Weather Service is looking to put more trained eyes on the sky in order to help save lives in harsh weather conditions.

The NWS Birmingham will be in Dallas County to offer free Storm Spotter Training Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Central Alabama Farmers’ Co-op.

The class will teach those who attend to be spotters, who help provide critical information about the weather to the NWS.

“Spotters are critical because they provide timely information on the actual weather that’s occurring at or near the ground,” said Rhonda Abbott, director of the Dallas County Emergency Management Agency. “Spotters can become eyes and ears for the community. The spotters, combined with radar and satellite data helps the warning decision process. Naturally, early warnings can save lives.”

Abbott said those who attend the free class will learn how to identify certain weather formations.

“They’re going to learn weather patterns, they’re going to learn how to distinguish a funnel cloud from an actual tornado that’s on the ground,” Abbott said. “They will go over severe thunderstorms and how to identify them. They will also learn to distinguish the sizes of hail and how to accurately call reports in (to NWS in Birmingham or the EMA) and give us as much information as possible.”

She said spotters fill an important role because radar isn’t perfect.

Abbott said, although the class is meant to train spotters who can help inform the NWS, the class is open to everyone including those who just want to learn, and anyone who attends the class is not obligated to call the NWS or EMA during inclement weather situations.

To register for the Storm Spotter Training class, call the EMA office at 874-2515.
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