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Joe’s Weather Blog: Severe weather seminars (TUE-1/31)

I thought I’d devote this blog to the various seminars that the NWS puts on throughout the region each winter and early spring…plus give you some information about how you can take a follow-up class in March and learn more about storms/safety and also some other things (severe weather related).

I went to the 1st session last night that was held in Olathe at Mid America Nazerine University. It was packed with well over 500 folks of all ages…ranging from younger kids of 5-10 years old…to older folks. Some were taking notes, like a class room, some were just watching some of the cool slides that Jenni was showing. The “class” itself lasted about 75 minutes and then Jenni spent about 15 minutes answering all sorts of questions.

Some might have wondered why I went. Well I try to get to at least one/year and I look for different ways to present severe weather information that I can take back to my TV audience. It’s also a great way for me to say Hi to some of the attendees who are kind enough to say hello. I keep a pretty low profile because it’s about the NWS and what their trying to achieve as opposed to being about me.

With all that said I’m glad I went. In my opinion the session is mostly geared for those who have little to no knowledge of severe weather and either want to learn about the whys…or are curious about the ways pf reporting severe weather to the NWS.

The latter is important because, as Jenni mentioned, YOU are the vital link in most cases to whaat we THINK we’re witnessing on radar. The radar that the NWS runs is VERY important, but it can’t SEE a tornado. It can see the rotation that MIGHT be associated with one…but you are the eyes we need to either verify what the radar is showing, which is great…or to say…nope, nothing happening close to the ground. Also remember that the radar beam goes in at straight line from it’s source in Pleasant Hill (unless atmospheric phenomena alters the beam path so) of often we’re shooting that radar beam 1000s of feet above you. That gives us an idea what’s happening 1000s of feet above your home…but not nearest to the ground or what may be falling at ground level. again that’s why your reports are so important. You are our eyes…when you report an event (hail, flood, snow total, tornado, funnel  cloud etc) to the NWS…they then send it out to the media and should the TV station you’re watching be in extended coverage of whatever, we then pass along the report.

I was asked if you’re REQUIRED to send in reports or be a spotter. Absolutely NOT. You can just simply go and learn and not do anything ever again. I think it’d be great for somewhat younger kids who are fascinated by weather and severe storms.

I also think it’s a great opportunity for adults who are interested. Others who might be interested are Scout leaders…I’m pretty sure this would take care of weather badges. Also I suggest parents who are fighting their childs fear about severe storms and thunderstorms to attend. We get calls each spring from parents whose children have perhaps more of a fear of storms compared to others. I always recommend that the youngster who is scared LEARN more about WHAT their scared of. In time, the next time they start to get scared, you can talk to them about what they learned. It allows them to transition from a scary event to something that they may become more fascinated about now that they know what is causing the lightning…or the hail..or the scary looking clouds.

There were a TON of radio operators there as well. Ham radio operators will be the ones with the knowledge when something crazy happens and all other communications are out (cell especially) and also power and internet. Taht was very encouraging.

I actually was surprised about the attendance. Why? There really hasn’t been a lot of violent weather in the area over the last decade. We pretty much have to go back to the 2003 tornado outbreak locally for the last BIG event around these parts and obviously the fear is that apathy has set in or is setting in to the general population + considering the 10s of thousands that have moved here since then…you can see the concern.

All the sessions that are conducted are FREE and OPEN TO ALL. They start at 7PM and depending on the venue…you may want to get there a bit early to get a good seat. I’ll have a link for the sessions at the bottom of the blog. These sessions are put on by the NWS in Pleasant Hill and also the NWS in Topeka. So for those who are reading the blog farther west of KC…Topeka would be your go to link.

So after you go to one of these sessions, perhaps you want to learn more…and take a deeper dive into severe weather. That’s where the Douglas County Severe Weather Seminar comes in. There is typically a speaker from the NWS talking about spotting/chasing and safety related to that aspect. Other speakers are scheduled as well (including your truly). This seminar though will be a longer one…it lasts for about 6-7 hours. There are vendors there as well related to storms and weather typically. There are breaks between speakers and lunch is provided. This session though is NOT for free. There is a $15 charge. The session is a good one though…and at the end there is my favorite part, which is a panel discussion with the participants as well as some others on stage that you can ask questions of.

IF you’re interested in that seminar…go to this link.

If you’re interested in attending any of the free sessions put together by our local NWS offices…go to this link.

As I wrote about…if you have an interest in this stuff…you’re have a good time and learn stuff too!

Joe

 

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