By Hanna Nilson
“Spotters” are trained citizens who help to report
severe weather damage such as fallen trees, power lines and structures,
hail, heavy rain, flooding, tornadoes, strong winds, injuries and
John Haase, a
National Weather Service meteorologist.
A night-time tornado illuminated by a nearby
Photograph by Fred Smith in Florida in 1991
Click image for
In March 30th,
Severe Weather Awareness Week – Monday Bob Brenzing reports; “The
National Weather Service offices in Michigan and the Michigan Committee
for Severe Weather Awareness, as well as Governor Jennifer Granholm, has
declared this week as Severe Weather Awareness Week in Michigan.” In the
Chicago Tribune -
Storms Prompt More Iowans to Watch Weather, Mary Nevans-Pederson
referred to John Haase, who is a
National Weather Service meteorologist and conducts severe weather
spotter trainings each year. In her article, John Hasse explains; “It's
important to have as many trained spotters as we can because as good as it
Doppler radar doesn't always show what's happening on the ground. We
need the 'ground truth' of the spotters.” He continues to explain that
“Spotters” are trained citizens who help to report severe weather damage
such as fallen trees, power lines and structures, hail, heavy rain,
flooding, tornadoes, strong winds, injuries and fatalities. There are also
lessons which provide a better understanding of sever weather alerts
and terminology used during weather reports. Some of these terms include
“Severe Thunderstorm Warning”, “Tornado Warning” and “Flash Flood” or
So what is all the fuss about? Why are people becoming
more anxious about paying closer attention to and studying sever weather?
Well, the answer seems pretty obvious – Knowledge is power! Even against
the mighty forces of Mother Nature; an informed citizen has a better
chance of survival if they know what to expect.
Most of us are well aware of the
damages severe whether can cause. For example, the
Farmers Almanac lists some of the most severe weather reports include
Hurrican Katrina of 2005, the Blizzard of 1993 a.k.a.
Superstorm ’93 and even the F5 Tri-State Tornado of 1925 which
caused a U.S. record death toll of 792 and an additional 2,027 injuries!
Granted that as meteorological technology advances, our ability to predict
local, national and even global weather forecasts continues to become more
accurate. Still, some would argue that this is simply not enough. In the
Societal Aspects of 2008 Super Tuesday tornado outbreak study,
some of the results proved some of the main reasons for victim’s deaths
- Two-thirds of the victims were
in mobile homes (without a safe shelter to go to).
- Some people minimized the
warning, waiting until they saw the tornado.
- Some believed damage only
‘happens to other people.’
Conclusions suggest that with
basic education, individuals and communities will be better prepaid to
avoid weather related fatalities, injuries and property damage. The
results for this survey also indicate a need for more urgent wording in
weather alerts and shelters for mobile home parks.
Sever weather is no joke.
Improving our current warning systems and protection strategies is indeed
a constant effort. You can help move this along by learning more about
your local weather patterns and communities sever weather safety measures.
Local Weather Forecasts via Cloud Reading
A Modern Look at the Weather Almanac