Kim Carver, executive director of the Scioto County Emergency Management Agency (SCEMA), has put things in perspective on all things groundhog.
“The very week that we had competing groundhog forecasts – Buckeye Chuck and Punxsutawney Phil, of course they’re more northern groundhogs, they predicted six more weeks of winter,” Carver said. “However, the groundhogs down south in Georgia and Texas and a couple of other states were saying – ‘spring is just around the corner,’”
“I’m guessing that it’s just like the northern areas of the country are going to have more winter and the southern areas of the country are going to have spring sooner,” Carver said. “My point about that is, the groundhogs cannot predict weather, but the National Weather Service can predict weather.”
The subject came up in an exclusive interview with the Daily Times concerning weather spotters.
“Sometimes, with all the technology they have, they need actual real-live reports from real people on the ground, to help them understand exactly what weather is occurring,” Carver said. “While the technology, Doppler Radar, all their instruments are getting more and more advanced, it’s impossible for that type of equipment to detect every severe weather event that’s occurring and that’s why they need the trained weather spotter.
The National Weather Service (NWS) at Wilmington, Ohio will hold a Weather Spotter’s class in Scioto County the first week in March. Participants in the Spotter Class will learn about different types of severe weather that occurs in the area. Forecasters will present information on how weather forms in the southern Ohio area and how severe weather impacts lives and property and what the various weather products are that they issue.
“Wilmington forecasters come down and sit down and talk to people about the different types of severe weather that occurs in our area; how the weather starts to form; the signs to look for, and then ways that they can actually be the ears and eyes of the National Weather Service and look for specific things that are going to help them by sharing that information in their warning and decision making, so they know when to update weather products, when to issue weather products that could make a life-saving difference,” Carver said.
Carver said the class tells spotters what to look for and how to gather information that will help the NWS in their decision making process, giving them the knowledge they need in updating weather products like flash-flooding events, hail, sky conditions, rain gauges they have at their homes that can record real-time precipitation data.
“You can be more or less a citizen scientist and help be the eyes and ears of the National Weather Service,” Carver said. “You can gather information and share that with them. They will kind of walk through the ways that you (spotters) can help them.”
Where do weather spotters come from?
“It’s up to anybody,” Carver said. “A general public person could be. Oftentimes over the years there have been ham radio operators, law enforcement, firefighters, industry employees, it has been a wide group of people.”
Carver said just because someone says they want to come and learn about the weather in our area, doesn’t mean they have to sign up to be a weather spotter.
“Sometimes we’ve had Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, people that have a class project, they come with their parents and they learn about how the weather is forecast and all of the different things that can occur right here in southern Ohio, weather wise,” Carver said. “It’s not always that people come to sign up to be a weather spotter. That’s the end goal and that helps people when they do – but sometimes people just want to learn more about the weather and that’s okay too.”
Those who complete the class may be asked to sign up as an official NWS Weather Spotter and share information with the NWS on its social media sites and via email as severe weather events move through the area. But there is no obligation to sign up as a Spotter. Often times folks attend the presentations to just learn about weather patterns and specifics on weather for our area.
The Spotter Class is sponsored by the Scioto County Emergency Management Agency and will be held at the new Valley Township Fire Department at 583 Robert Lucas Road in Lucasville on March 6, from 6-8 p.m. Registration is required. Anyone interested in attending should email EMA at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the EMA office and leave a voice mail if after hours at 740-355-8300.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.