January 21, 2022

Learn to identify severe storms at NWS training

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With the fall severe weather season approaching, do you have a weather response plan at your home and your workplace? Can you recognize the clues that indicate large hail, flash flooding, or a tornado is possible? Do you want to become part of the severe weather warning system in your county?

The National Weather Service (NWS) in Memphis will answer these and many other questions at an upcoming SkyWarn Storm Spotter Training Program to be held in Big Sandy on Monday, Sept. 30, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Big Sandy Volunteer Fire Dept., 80 Ball Park Rd. As part of the NWS area-wide weather preparedness campaign, the program is offered in partnership with Benton County’s Emergency Management Agency and the Big Sandy VFD.

The 2-hour presentation will be in multimedia format, featuring numerous storm photos and video clips. The program will discuss thunderstorm formation, severe weather production, and features associated with severe storms. It will review tornado formation and behavior, non-threatening clues which may be mistaken for significant features, and spotter operations. Recommended storm reporting procedures and safety in preparation for storms also will be reviewed.

“The network of trained storm spotters plays an important role in Benton County. We could not do our job as well as we do without storm spotters,” said Gary Woodall, Warning Coordination Meteorologist with NWS Memphis. “Real-time reports from storm spotters play a huge role in our warnings. Radar and satellite are great tools, but they only tell part of a storm’s story. The combination of spotter reports and electronic data gives the best possible picture of storms and what’s going on inside them.”

The program is free and open to the public. Even if attendees don’t want to become active storm spotters, they will learn a lot about how storms work and the visual clues to look for when storms are in the area. Participants will leave better prepared to deal with the threats that storms pose.

“This class is a culmination of efforts by our area storm spotters and emergency personnel to bring a more active NWS presence to Benton County,” said County Mayor Brett Lashlee. “The training class will be an opportunity for citizens to educate themselves in the value of severe weather monitoring, and aid them in early and responsive reporting of severe weather events affecting Benton County.”
The NWS in Memphis provides forecasts, warnings, and weather services for 55 counties across the Mid-South. For more information on severe weather and the NWS, visit the website at www.weather.gov/Memphis or the Facebook page at “NWSMemphis.”

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