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Storm spotter class offered locally

February 3, 2011

For the Daily News

A basic SKYWARN Storm Spotter Class has been set for February 8 at 6 p.m. by the Oktibbeha-Starkville Emergency Response Volunteer Services (OSERVS) and the local Emergency Management Office. 
The class will be taught at the Courthouse Annex at 6 p.m. on Feb. 8.  The instructor will be from the National Weather Service. 
There is no charge for the course, but preregistration is required.  Pre-register by calling the OSERVS office at 384-2200.
“NOAA’s National Weather Service established SKYWARN with partner organizations using volunteers to help keep local communities safe,” explained Jim Britt, Oktibbeha County Emergency Management director.  “We’ll be asking these volunteers to identify and describe severe local storms.”
It doesn’t require dashing out to find a storm, but rather to report those that you encounter,  Britt explained. 
Participants will learn basics of thunderstorm development, fundamentals of storm structure, identifying potential severe weather features, and basic severe weather safety. 
Participants will also learn about participation in the SKYWARN program and how to report information through SKYWARN.
Britt is quick to point out that participation in the class doesn’t mean participants will be be chasing storms. 
“This is the basic course and it helps us to provide timely and accurate reports of severe weather,” Britt said. “With 10,000 severe thunderstorms and more than 1,000 tornados occurring each year in the U.S., we want to train as many people as we can to help preserve lives and property.”
There is no charge for the course, which will last approximately two hours.  SKYWARN storm spotters are the first line of defense against severe weather for a community.
Anyone with an interest in public service and access to communication, such as HAM radio should enroll, Britt said.  The National Weather Service website suggests police and fire personnel, dispatchers, EMS workers, public utility workers, and other concerned private citizens participate. 
Individuals affiliated with hospitals, schools, churches, nursing homes, or who have a responsibility for protecting others are encouraged to participate.

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