Letters for 04-23-2015

Storm spotters keep an eye out
Ah, spring. Balmy days, bright flowers,
short-sleeve mornings ó and
severe storms.
For those of us in North Louisiana,
April and May are among the potentially
worse weather months on the
calendar. More tornados occur during
those months than any other time of the
year, according to the National Weather
Thatís one of the reasons itís good
that our area has dozens of NWS-certified
SKYWARN storm spotters.
Many of the weather watchers are
front-line first responders ó law enforcement
officers, utility workers and
public works personnel. There are also
dozens who are private citizens. All have
taken part in NWS training offered over
the last several months.
Donít mistake storm spotters for
storm chasers. In fact, the NWS discourages
chasing storms.
ďItís too dangerous,Ē said Bill Parker,
warning coordination meteorologist at
the NWS Shreveport office.
Storm spotters are trained, volunteer
weather watchers who relay dangerous
conditions to the NWS and local
emergency responders. Jason Hansford,
senior meteorologist with Shreveport
office, calls the spotters ďour eyes in
the field.Ē
Thatís because the NWS monitors
bad weather via computer, maps and
scientific equipment rather than up
close and personal. Itís the storm spotters
who are most likely to see rapidly
developing hazardous conditions first.
Storm spotters are often able to notice
dangerous weather phenomena too
small or too far away to be detected on
radar. Because of that, the spotters add
value to NWS warnings, and, in fact,
could be the cause many warnings are
issued in plenty of time to save lives.
Information filed by spotters through
the NWS website pops up on staff computers
within five seconds.
Theyíve learned how thunderstorms
and tornadoes develop and the potential
dangers of hail, high winds, lightning
and flash floods. So, with the severe
weather season upon us, we urge the
storm spotters to put their new knowledge
to work.
The gift they can offer is one of
time ó time to watch and time for early
warnings. And everyone knows in an
emergency, seconds count.