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Eyes on the Skies: Workshop Trains Storm Spotters

Eyes on the Skies: Workshop Trains Storm Spotters

Posted: April 12, 2012

The National Weather Service (NWS) will have 25 new pairs of eyes on the sky after participants attend a SkyWarn training workshop on campus on Friday, April 13. SkyWarn is a nationwide certification program that prepares spotters to report severe weather to the NWS. Judith Levan, warning coordination meteorologist at the Buffalo office of the NWS, will present the workshop, which is full.

“The people who attend will be certified as storm spotters,” said Stephen Vermette, meteorologist and professor of geography and planning. “Spotters serve as the eyes and ears for the weather service. They get a phone number and a code so that they can report conditions in their neighborhood—persistent white-outs, hail, heavy rains, and other severe-weather events—to the NWS.”

Those attending the workshop will learn about severe weather, and how to recognize it. According to the Basic Spotter’s Field Guide, 10,000 severe thunderstorms, 5,000 floods, and over 900 tornadoes occur across the United States in an average year. During the past 10 years, tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, and flash floods have killed nearly 2,300 people in the United States and injured thousands of others. “Weather spotters provide valuable information about conditions in more locations than the NWS could otherwise reach,” said Vermette.

Vermette coordinates the meteorology and climatology program. “I like the SkyWarn program,” he said. “Besides providing an important public service, weather spotters learn how to understand and recognize severe weather, and become engaged in reporting it.”

The Faculty-Student Association funded the SkyWarn workshop.

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