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Weather spotter training coming to Goldendale

 


Volunteers are being sought to participate in the latest weather spotter training on April 19 in Goldendale. Weather spotters trained by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service (NWS) are key volunteers who assist the meteorologists by providing up-to-date information about storm activity.

The Skywarn Weather Spotter training is free and will be held at the Goldendale Community Library at 131 W. Burgen at 10 a.m.

Even though the Doppler weather radar is scanning the skies and the NOAA Weather Radio is broadcasting forecasts, watches, and warnings, forecasters depend upon getting good ground truth information from trained Skywarn weather spotters.

“Skywarn volunteers are not ‘storm chasers,’ although many Skywarn members, both local and nationwide, may chase storms on their own time,” said Dennis Hull, NWS Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the forecast office in Pendleton. “The National Weather does not encourage storm chasing because it is very dangerous.”

Hull added, “The safety of all Skywarn spotters is a high priority. Skywarn members are volunteers trained in weather spotting and reporting those findings in a timely manner using the phone, amateur radio, or internet.”

Skywarn spotters attend a two-hour training session where they learn how to observe cloud formations and other weather in this area. The Weather Service teaches how to determine which storms are potentially severe. Spotters use a special toll free number, amateur radio frequency, or the internet address to let the forecasters at the National Weather Service office in Pendleton know what is happening in their area. Meteorologists use this data as they issue severe weather warnings or statements to the residents of Klickitat County.

Hull said the Skywarn was a concept, developed in the early 1970s, that was intended to promote a cooperative effort between the National Weather Service and communities. The emphasis of the effort is often focused on the storm spotter, an individual who takes a position near their community and reports wind gusts, hail size, rainfall, and cloud formations that could signal a developing tornado.

In the winter, spotters report heavy snow, icing, high winds, and blizzards. Skywarn also works to ensure National Weather Service forecasts, watches, and warnings are broadcast and received in a timely manner.

The lead role in Skywarn may lie with the National Weather Service or with an emergency management agency within the community. This agency could be a police or fire department, or often is an emergency management/service group. This varies across the country however, with local national weather service offices taking the lead in some locations, while emergency management takes the lead in other areas.

Interested residents who would like to learn more about the local weather or those who may have an interest helping your neighbors obtain good weather warnings, are invited to attend the SkyWarn Weather Spotter training. Volunteers are asked to fill out pre-registration at weather.gov/Pendleton and bring information about their latitude, longitude, and elevation so their locations can be easily mapped. Door prizes will be given away.

More information about the training is available by contacting the National Weather Service at (541) 969-7136. You can also email Hull at dennis.hull@noaa.gov. Additional information is also available at weather.gov/ pendleton.

 

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