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Weather watchers learn the basics in class to spot storms

By Laura Halm
Published On: Jan 10 2013 09:24:37 PM CST
STORM SPOTTER CLASS
BRISTOL, Tenn. -

Mother Nature is unpredictable, but there's a class teaching people how to first spot a storm and then send in the right data to the National Weather Service.

That Storm Spotter class was held Thursday night at Bristol Motor Speedway and News 5 dropped in and learned the National Weather Service conducts training classes on a regular basis. Reports from volunteer spotters can be taken on the road, at work, even at home.

Weather radar can only see certain parts of the storm, but not what's happening on the ground where you and I live. "We need eyes to be able to report what they're seeing to us at the National Weather Service," said Anthony Cavallucci, Meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

That's why people wanting to help, filled a room at Bristol Motor Speedway to learn more about storms and severe weather. Everything from cloud formation, to the size of hail, and the right data were lessons in becoming a true storm spotter. "Winds are a big deal, so we want to know about damage, power lines down, roads closed, flooding," added Cavallucci.

It's those details that help make sure warnings are correct and help emergency crews form a plan to start helping the community. "If there's severe weather, where has it been so we can look at any potential victims that are there, and where it might be heading so we can try to get the word out," said Jim Bean, Director of Sullivan County Emergency Management.

Lonnie Ward is brushing up so he can send severe weather alerts over his HAM radio, "Last couple of years we've had severe wind and so forth, it's just good to be up with it I think."

News 5 learned weather systems come in cycles, one year we may see an unusually warm winter, and the next we could be faced with tornadoes. That's why a class like this can give peace of mind. "We really want people to be aware of their surroundings and be aware of what's coming ahead," added Cavallucci.

We also learned this network of storm spotters stretches across the United States and these volunteers send reports to the National Weather Service