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Free storm training opportunities being offered in March 2022

Last Updated on March 3, 2022 by Cass County Emergency Management Agency

The sky is growing darker and the clouds appear to be spinning around you. Is this a sign of bad things to come? How can you let your friends and community know? Who should you tell? These questions and more are addressed in the National Weather Service Skywarn Spotter Training program, being offered virtually this year (and free of charge!).

Rocky Buffum, Director of the Cass County Emergency Management Agency, encourages residents to attend these free offerings.

“The National Weather Service does a lot of great work, and weather radar has come a long way, but the technology still has its limitations. Sometimes the difference between whether or not a watch or warning is issued is the presence or absence of a trained observer on the ground.”

Buffum explains the weather radar moves across the sky looking at “slices” of the atmosphere, and it is typically pointed up as it rotates. Many times, especially further away from the radar base, the meteorologists can’t “see” what is happening at lower altitudes where wall clouds and funnel clouds may be forming. Warnings issued for tornadoes or funnel clouds observed can add several minutes to the time available to gather family and pets, find shelter or otherwise move away from a hazardous condition headed your way. Sometimes, a few minutes can make all the difference.

Buffum highlights there are many misconceptions about storm spotting that might discourage people from attending.

“If you watch TV, there are folks in armored vehicles chasing tornadoes as debris bounces off the vehicle. Most storm spotters are stationary and can report conditions from the comfort of work or home.”

Buffum stressed the hazards of “mobile” storm spotting and noted locally such practices are only engaged in by emergency responders with more advanced training and coordination.

“Personnel safety is a top priority. We want to make less victims, not more, in any situation we respond to.”

The 2022 virtual offerings from the National Weather Service Northern Indiana are:

March 8 at 6 p.m.

March 12 at 10 a.m.

March 17 at 1 p.m.

March 24 at 6 p.m.

Trainings last about two hours. You only need to attend one session.

The EMA staff recognize that not everyone is fond of virtual offerings. To make the training more accessible, EMA will be offering an in person “viewing party” options for the March 8 and 24 offerings.

“It will be the same program using the same platform, but this way you can just come in and enjoy the show while EMA staff handle all the computer sign ins and technology challenges which may occur.”

Buffum said it is also an opportunity to meet the local EMA volunteers and staff and ask questions about how operations are handled locally.

If you are interested in attending the in person offering, EMA requests you RSVP by calling the EMA Office to sign up (574-722-2484) or using the event page on the Cass County EMA Facebook account (@CassCoINEMA). You can also email ema@co.cass.in.us. This is to ensure adequate seating is available. The in person offering will be at the EMA Office, 1227 N SR 17, Logansport.

Link to Sign Up for on your own Training: https://www.weather.gov/iwx/Spotter_Event_List

SOURCE: News release from Cass County Emergency Management Agency