Although it may not look or feel like it outside, spring is officially here, and in Iowa that means severe weather. Citizens from all over Jasper County took part in the National Weather Service 2013 Spotter training session on Thursday.
The session was held at the Jasper County Community Center and was proctored by Kevin Skow a meteorologist with the NWS in Des Moines. Chuck Wagoner, president of the Newton Amateur Radio Association and Jasper County Emergency Management Coordinator Jim Sparks were also in attendance. NARA were the sponsors for the event.
“Hopefully you’ll get a chance to use your skills, unlike last year we had a really quiet year thankfully,” Skow said. “But 2013 could be very different, you never know.”
Skow used a combination of slides, video, photos, and lecturing to teach participants what to look for in storms and how to spot severe weather. Some of his objectives for the session were to teach folks about climatology, thunderstorm fundamentals, the different kinds of thunder storms and then would quiz participants at the end.
Doug Cutts of the Iowa State Patrol attended the session to refresh his storm spotting skills. Cutts tries to attempt at least one storm spotter training session annually.
“We do it for a living, because with the patrol we are always out in the storms and we get sent to go check things out all the time and we do watch them (storms) and monitor them,” Cutts said. “It’s one of our duties. I have been a trooper for 26 years and for 26 years I have been doing it. All of us are trained in it but I just try to keep current, go above and beyond.”
Skow advises all spotters to work in pairs to minimize risk and to also stay in your vehicles. Other tips on being a good spotter include finding safe a viewable angle to spot the storm from, making sure it goes to your right. This is also known as the “Right Hand Rule.” Take a pro-active approach to spotting before storms enter a county, this is vital to the warning process. Staying informed is also a key. Try to using your county radar data or products from the NWS to stay informed before official warnings are given out.
A father and son duo from Sully also took part in the class. Monte Goodyk and his son Miles are hoping the class will do some good for them and their town.
“My son and I are doing this as a team, he’s 14 and he’s interested in storms and stuff,” Monte said. “I’m excited to be here, this could be a good father and son thing. And I think we need better reporting around Sully. We have a lot of times were we have those mircoburst come through and we won’t have sirens going off and damaged trees taking houses out. Evidently, there is a need for it by us.”
Miles wants to be a volcanologist and meteorologist one day and seemed to be soaking in all of Skow’s information.
“It’s cool and interesting, the patterns and the cold and the warm,” Miles said. “Storms have lots of interesting features and are just interesting, very interesting.”