Harding University

February 23, 2014

University hosts storm spotters course

Harding will host a SKYWARN Storm Spotter Course Tuesday, Feb. 25 at 6:30 p.m. in Heritage Auditorium. 

SKYWARN exists as a network of trained spotters that voluntarily watch, track and report criteria associated with severe weather. These reports are used to aid forecasters in issuing and verifying severe weather and to improve the tools used to collect meteorological data. 

“Some of the most important cloud features associated with tornadoes occur before the tornado develops … people often mistake non-threatening clouds for funnel clouds or tornadoes,” said John Robinson, warning coordination meteorologist at the Weather Forecast Office in North Little Rock. “The spotter course teaches people which clouds are indeed threatening versus those that are not a threat at all.” 

The NWS sponsors SKYWARN training in the U.S. These classes focus on hazard identification and communication along with spotter strategies and safety concerns. The NWS encourages anyone with any interest in public service and access to communication, such as HAM radio, 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 or nursing homes or who have responsibility for protecting others are also encouraged to become a spotter.

The course is free and lasts nearly two and a half hours. Upon completion of the course, students are provided certificates to certify them as official NWS storm spotters for five years.