Marshall County to Host Weather Outreach Program

Although January has only just come and gone, Indiana has already felt the impact of severe weather in 2012. Three tornadoes recently struck in southern Indiana, causing over $1 million in damages. Fortunately, no injuries have been reported.

With severe weather already occurring this year, the National Weather Service in cooperation with the Marshall County EMA and the SKYWARN group will be hosting the annual Weather Outreach Program. Previously coined “Storm Spotter Training,” this program will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 7 at 6:30 p.m. in room 203 of the Marshall County Building at 112 W. Jefferson St. in Plymouth.

SKYWARN is a concept developed in the early 1970s that is intended to promote cooperative effort between the National Weather Service and local communities. The effort focuses on storm spotters– individuals who take positions near their community and report wind gusts, hail size, rainfall, and cloud formations that could potentially signal a developing tornado.

While this plan certainly has the potential to give communities a heads up on developing storm conditions, EMA Director Clyde Avery told WKVI that the program isn’t without problems.

“What happens a lot of times is people who aren’t trained have good intentions, but they unfortunately report things that aren’t exactly what would constitute initiating our emergency response plans, activating severe weather sirens and things of that nature. So they help to try and get good information out to folks on what they should be looking for in severe weather situations,” Avery said.

Fortunately, the Weather Outreach Program will inform potential storm spotters about how thunderstorms develop, fundamentals of storm structures, and other information on identifying potential features of severe weather. It’s hopeful that this information will give those interested a better idea on what to look for and how to report it.

“It’s free, and the public is invited to attend if they’d like to know more about what they’re looking for when they look at storms and things of that nature,” said Avery.