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Storm spotter classes scheduled


2011 will be forever known as the year of extreme weather with record breaking drought and heat. But it an interesting severe weather year as well, with at least 44 tornadoes recorded across northern and central Texas.  

The 2012 severe weather season is fast approaching.  Are you ready for whatever this year has in store?  Can you recognize the clues that suggest large hail, flash flooding, or if a tornado is possible?  As part of its area-wide weather preparedness campaign, the National Weather Service in Fort Worth will answer these and many other questions at the SKYWARN severe weather program on Thursday, Feb. 2, from 7-9 p.m.  

The program will be held at the Bowie Community Room, 307 N. Mason St., in Bowie, and is held in partnership with Montague County Emergency Management. This program is open to the public.

The 2012 program will discuss thunderstorm formation, severe weather production, and features associated with severe storms.  The presentation will also review tornado formation and behavior, non-threatening clues which may be mistaken for significant features, and what to do to keep safe when thunderstorms threaten.  The program will discuss spotter operations and recommended reporting procedures.  The two-hour presentation will be in multimedia format, featuring numerous pictures of storms and over 30 minutes of storm video clips. 

Due to cutbacks in the National Weather Service, Clay County will not host it’s annual weather spotter training session this year. Those interested should plan to attend the Bowie sessions, Wichita Falls session or the Jacksboro session for severe weather training.

  • Basic session – Bowie Community Room, Bowie, Thursday, Feb 2, 7-9 p.m., by the Fort Worth NWS office
  • Basic session – MSU Shawnee Theater, Wichita Falls, Saturday, Feb 11, 9-11 a.m., by the Norman, Okla., NWS office
  • Basic session – Jack County Sheriff’s Office Training Room, Jacksboro, Thursday, March 1, 6:30-8:30 p.m., by the Fort Worth NWS office
  • Advanced session – Bowie Community Room, Bowie, Thursday, March 15, 7-9 p.m., by the Fort Worth NWS office 


“The NWS has quite a bit of new material for this year’s spotter training program,” said Mark Fox, Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the Fort Worth NWS Office.  “We will show some behind the scenes activity from last year’s severe weather operations, and will show how and why severe weather reports from spotters are so essential.”

The fundamental purpose of the spotter training and of the storm spotter network remains unchanged.  The NWS can not do their job as well as they do without storm spotters.  Radar is a great tool, but it only tells them part of a storm’s story.  Spotter observations complement the data they use to analyze storms.  The combination of spotter reports and radar data gives the NWS  the best possible picture of the storms and what’s going on inside them.

The program is free and open to the public.  

“By attending this program, you will learn a lot about thunderstorms.  Even if you don’t become an active ARES storm spotter, you will learn about how storms work and the visual clues you can identify when storms are in your area,” said Larry Duncan, emergency coordinator for the Clay County ARES. “We will discuss severe weather safety tips.  This will better prepare you and your family for the threats that storms pose.”

The Montague County severe weather program is one of over 60 that the Fort Worth NWS Office will conduct between January and March 2012. The National Weather Service in Fort Worth provides forecasts, warnings, and weather services for 46 counties in North and North Central Texas.  For more information on severe weather and the National Weather Service, visit the Fort Worth Forecast Office’s website at http://www.weather.gov/fortworth and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/US.NationalWeatherService.FortWorth.gov


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The Pioneer Sentinel is an online newspaper designed to deliver the news of Clay County, Texas, in a concise and community-friendly format.

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