Last week, I attended one of the National Weather Service’s training classes and became a certified Storm Spotter. Growing up in the Midwest, I have always had a healthy respect for the weather and particularly heed warnings about severe winds. I don’t plan to become one of the crazies who chase tornadoes and put themselves in harm’s way to get a great photo, but if I could combine curiosity with the ability to help then it seemed to be worth an evening of my time.

We saw some AMAZING videos and learned how to distinguish the elements of cloud patterns. We were taught what indicates potential severity and how to prepare now for more accurate reporting later. We discovered how to read key indicators on radar and what to call in to the Weather Service. 

Mostly, we learned how to be “weather aware” and to interpret what we were already seeing around us. The class gave me the extra layer of knowledge to know what is potentially dangerous and what is not, and to make meaning of the formations that I was looking at every day. I was not a weather junkie, but after just one class I can tell the difference between a wall cloud and a shelf cloud and know which one to call in. In short, the Weather Service connected the dots between clouds and predictions as well as formations and hazards. 

It was stimulating to learn something totally new and something outside of my normal range of experiences. Whether through one of the thousands of on-line resources or through an in-person experience such as this, commit to gain new knowledge that helps you make sense of old experiences. The heavens will open and fill you with wonder.

beth triplett

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