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February 7, 2013

National Weather Service to Host Storm Spotter Training in Memphis

History is filled with individuals who answered the call of duty. Paul Revere is famous for warning his fellow patriots that the British were coming.

Local emergency service personnel are hoping to find more Paul Revere's this month as the National Weather Service will be seeking volunteers willing to be trained on identifying hazardous weather so they can tell area residents that the storm is coming.

The effects of severe weather are felt every year by many Americans. To obtain critical weather information, NOAA's National Weather Service (NWS), part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, established SKYWARN with partner organizations.

SKYWARN is a volunteer program with nearly 290,000 trained severe weather spotters. These volunteers help keep their local communities safe by providing timely and accurate reports of severe weather to the National Weather Service.

Storm spotter training sessions will be held in Scotland County on Tuesday, March 12 beginning at 6:30 p.m. Interim Scotland County Emergency Management Director Bryan Whitney noted that the session, which will be held at the Memphis fire station, is free of charge and refreshments will be provided. He added that no registration is required.

For more information contact Whitney at the Scotland County Sheriff's Office at 465-7277.

Although SKYWARN spotters provide essential information for all types of weather hazards, the main responsibility of a SKYWARN spotter is to identify and describe severe local storms. In the average year, 10,000 severe thunderstorms, 5,000 floods and more than 1,000 tornadoes occur across the United States. These events threaten lives and property.

Since the program started in the 1970s, the information provided by SKYWARN spotters, coupled with Doppler radar technology, improved satellite and other data, has enabled NWS to issue more timely and accurate warnings for tornadoes, severe thunderstorms and flash floods.

SKYWARN storm spotters are part of the ranks of citizens who form the Nation's first line of defense against severe weather. There can be no finer reward than to know that their efforts have given communities the precious gift of time--seconds and minutes that can help save lives.

NWS encourages anyone with an interest in public service and access to communication, such as HAM radio operators, to join the SKYWARN program. Volunteers include police and fire personnel, dispatchers, EMS workers, public utility workers and other concerned private citizens. Individuals affiliated with hospitals, schools, churches, nursing homes or who have a responsibility for protecting others are also encouraged to become a spotter.

NWS has 122 local Weather Forecast Offices, each with a Warning Coordination Meteorologist, who is responsible for administering the SKYWARN program in their local area.

Training is conducted at these local offices and covers: Basics of thunderstorm development; Fundamentals of storm structure; Identifying potential severe weather features; Information to report; How to report information; and Basic severe weather safety.


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