Local citizens train to watch the sky for weather warnings
More than 20 individuals gathered at the Cleveland Civic Center on April 7 to participate in the Skywarn class to be better informed of dangerous weather patterns.
Hosted by the Sam Houston Amateur Radio Klub (SHARK), Cleveland Emergency Management District and the Cleveland Fire Department, the class involved Dan Reilly of the National Weather Service (NWS) teaching participants the ins and outs of determining weather patterns and the potential danger they may pose to the local public.
“It’s to teach people how to recognize cloud formations and what they (NWS) need as far as information,” said Cecil Watt, Jr. of SHARK. “It’s like having eyes on the ground. They (NWS) can see the radar but they can’t see a lot of it.”
Watt explains that monitoring a storm on radar is much different than seeing it in person, which is why spotters in Skywarn are beneficial because they can help meteorologists get a better grasp on storms and the danger they may pose in the areas they are affecting.
Those who act in the field for Skywarn are known as spotters. They are trained to determine storm patterns for natural disasters such as tornados, thunderstorms, flash floods and hail while providing methods for participants to report storm patterns.
Reilly discussed these points and also provided a number of safety tips for the trainees, making it clear that one’s own personal safety should not be forgone in any storm events.
Watt explained he had hoped to have students from Cleveland High School, Splendora High School and Caney Creek High School in attendance from the various FFA and JROTC organizations. Few, if any students showed up.
“They’re scattered all around the county here,” said Watt explaining why he wanted students present at the event due to the potential versatility of having trained spotters all over the county.
According to Watt, SHARK held the classes in the past but have not held any in recent years. He intends to bring Skywarn classes back to the Cleveland area. Those who express interest do not need to be proficient in operating equipment such as ham radios.
“We just need people,” he said.
Watt cited the recent thunderstorms as well as the tornado that affected San Jacinto County, noting that these storms are proof that there are situations present that the Skywarn system can address in the future.
“The SHARK club is going to support it and get it started and keep it going,” he said.
For more information on Skywarn, visit www.skywarn.org. Training for Skywarn is free and typically lasts for two hours. For more information on SHARK, visit www.sharkclub.org.