Living my entire adult life in northern (and not coastal) NJ, my experience with severe weather emergencies revolved around snow, ice, flooding, and the associated power failures that could last weeks. We typically had time to prepare for a weather-related event. Professionally, at county government, we’d put out preparedness information relating to the specific, anticipated event. The public and small businesses, if they were listening, had time and information to prepare.
TX is a whole different ballgame. Weather events come with little to no warning. Hail, strong winds, flash floods, tornados… all need an eye on the sky. And, citizen spotters reporting to the National Weather Service (NWS) play a critical role in providing information for those in the path of dangerous weather.
So, I trekked down to Bastrop City Hall for the NWS Skywarn Citizen Spotter training. We learned about train storms, single cell, multicell and supercell storms, the difference between a tornado and a funnel cloud, lightning facts, and the quickness of flash flooding. We learned what to report, how to report, and where to report.
During social media training, I always explain to officials that citizens become their eyes during an event, making two-way communication critical to the safety and welfare of those affected. One way, push, social media misses the mark by not taking advantage of so many viewpoints. Skywarn is an excellent way to assist NWS professionals by providing trained eyes on the sky. Great program!