Webster High School hosted the National Weather Service (NWS) Severe Storm training on Oct. 1, at 6:30 p.m. in the auditorium, where students learned the various aspects of severe storm spotting.
Jim Kramper of the NWS led the training. The spotter training class explained thunderstorm and tornado development, how to identify severe storms, what makes weather severe and specifically how to relay real-time observations of severe weather.
Pictures in the presentation showed how major storms form and the famous ones that have occurred in St. Louis. “The NWS and local community spotters help the overall warning process and can save lives. The main responsibility of a Skywarn spotter is to identify and describe severe local storms,” the NWS Skywarn packet said.
WGHS had never hosted NWS Severe Storm Training before and was the only establishment holding training this fall. Fifty people signed up for the training, and about 200-250 showed up. Meteorology teacher Cici Faucher’s students were offered extra credit for attending the training.
“There was an awesome turnout. The presentation had weather terms I’d never heard before, but also words we’ve learned in Meteorology like SLCs,” senior Bethany Conerly said. SLCs refer to scary-looking clouds.
Once people watch the NWS seminar and register, they receive life-long certification as official Storm Spotters to help the NWS detect severe storms’ intensities and locations. First responders are required to be trained in Severe Storm Training to be able to understand and classify storms quickly.
“You get a card with a code to email or call in with observations of weather you see right in front of you,” Faucher said. Everyone was welcome to attend the two-hour long seminar, but those younger than high school students did not become certified spotters.
“People call in and tell what they’re watching- it’s a chance to tell (the NWS) what they’re actually seeing,” Faucher said. Reports from spotters help NWS meteorologists make warning decisions with potentially lifesaving information.
Since the NWS Skywarn program began in the 1970s, information given by spotters combined with Doppler radar technology has enabled the NWS to issue quicker, more accurate storm warnings. Spotters have contributed observations for over 300,000 severe weather warnings in the past five years.