The Randolph County Office of Emergency Management, in conjunction with the National Weather Service, is offering a free SKYWARN class from 6 to 8 p.m. on March 19 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Elkins Fire Department. The class is essential for volunteers who are interested in serving as severe weather spotters.
The SKYWARN class will teach people how to identify severe weather and report it to the National Weather Service.
"This class is important because the NWS needs spotters to sight severe weather, as does the Randolph County Office of Emergency Management," Office of Emergency Management Director Marvin Hill said. "We need more people to identify severe weather and notify the National Weather Service so that the NWS can issue warnings; then people can better protect themselves and their property."
The spotters are people who are trained to sight severe weather and report it.
"If people give the Weather Service identifying information for the specific location of the severe weather, the NWS puts it right on the radar screen," Hill said. "Then the spotters are asked to call back and tell the NWS what happened afterward."
It is not the first time that a SKYWARN class has been offered in this county.
"We did this same class in Randolph County a few years ago; there was a basic and an advanced class," Hill said. "This class will be a combination of the two classes, so the participants will get more detailed information than in the past."
Complimentary refreshments will be available for SKYWARN class participants. The class is co-sponsored by the Randolph County Local Emergency Planning Committee and the Community Emergency Response Team. It is open to everyone, in any county. Ham radio operators, along with anyone interested, are encouraged to attend.
The class will be conducted in the upstairs classroom at the Elkins Fire Department at 216 Fourth St. in Elkins. Some of the training and information that will be presented during the class includes, but is not limited to, basics of thunderstorm development, fundamentals of storm structure, identifying potential severe weather features, information that should be reported, how to report information and basic severe weather safety.
SKYWARN is a group of interested volunteers who provide valuable information for the National Weather Service. While the spotter's information regarding severe weather provides the radar meteorologist with much needed input, it also provides valuable information to the Randolph County Emergency Management personnel who can activate sirens or local broadcast systems.
Call the Randolph County Office of Emergency Management at 304-636-0483 for more information or to reserve a spot in the free class on or before March 14.
Julie Dean can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.