Saturday, March 25, 2006

A tornado? Or just a funnel-shaped cloud?

We all have heard (and repeated?) the saying: Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody can do anything about it. Yes, it is true that we can't change the weather -- let's not go into global warming arguments now, please -- we can do something about it as it concerns weather's impact.

I attended a National Weather Service "weather spotter" class Wednesday evening in Cascade, Iowa. The free class is offered for law enforcement and other emergency personnel -- as well as the general public -- to help them help the NWS identify and track major storms.

Folks who are just interested in weather were welcome, too, and that best describes my reason for attending. I figured that a little more knowledge about dangerous weather might help when I am out at the soccer field (I officiate) and see a storm brewing.

The presenter covered a lot of ground in the two hours, making liberal use of graphics and video clips. We received enough of the basics (and a booklet) to understand the composition and characteristics of storm clouds, tonadoes, gustnadoes, hail storms and downbursts.

Note: Not every funnel-shaped cloud is a tornado. A tornado must have rotation.

The series of seminars is winding down, but there are few more in the general area. The last session closest to Dubuque is 6:30 p.m. Monday, March 27, at the fire station in Galena, Ill.

I believe that I'd have to attend another class and/or study more before I would be comfortable describing myself as a bona fide weather spotter. However, it was interesting class, and I'd recommend it to anyone with a free evening and an interest in weather.

We can't do anything about the weather? Think again. Information from weather spotters helps the National Weather Service issue accurate and timely watches and warnings -- giving the public more time to take safety precautions.

No comments: