NWS, EMA to hold Storm Spotters class in Clanton

Published 3:23 pm Friday, September 30, 2011

With the deadly April storms still fresh on people’s minds, Chilton County residents soon will the have the opportunity to help meteorologists in times of severe weather.

The National Weather Service and the Chilton County Emergency Management Agency will host a Storm Spotters Basics class at 6 p.m. on Oct. 6 at Clanton City Hall.

“After everything that happened this April, we want everybody in Alabama to be ready for anything that’s going to happen,” said NWS Meteorologist Kevin Laws, who will teach the class.

Those who complete the class will become certified Storm Spotters and will have an opportunity to participate in an advanced class.

The beginners class will cover storm structure and the basics of severe weather. The advanced class will cover topics like forecasting and meteorology.

NWS relies on Storm Spotters to help track storms.

“Radar can only show so much,” Laws said. “We can’t be everywhere, obviously. They are our eyes here on the ground.”

Storm Spotters send reports to NWS through telephone calls or digitally, through social media like Facebook and Twitter.

“Back in the day, storm spotting used to be ham radio,” Laws said. “Nowadays, people have radar on their phone. Everything is right there.”

Laws said it has been at least five years since the last Storm Spotters class was held in Clanton, and heard from North Chilton Fire Department Chief Jason Scott that local residents were interested in the class. Laws, like several of his NWS colleagues, is a Chilton County resident.

“We try to take care of our people here, that’s for sure,” he said.

Laws said classes typically include between 50-100 participants.