NWS Storm Spotter Course held in Jacksonville


Gerald Satterwhite, a meteorologist of the NWS, discusses RADAR during the free storm spotter course in Jacksonville on Thursday. (Scott Young, The Chanticleer)

Scott Young, Staff Reporter

The National Weather Service (NWS) Birmingham visited Jacksonville Thursday evening to hold a free storm spotter training course which was open to the public. The event was designed to teach attendees how to become storm spotters, who, according to the National Weather Service’s website, “play a critical role of giving the NWS vital ground truth data, which helps the NWS perform its primary mission, to save lives and property.”

“When we talk about investing our time and effort to give a class, where better to do that than a community that’s been affected by a significant tornado,” said John Block of the NWS. “This is about you getting information and understanding the principles of storm spotting.”

During the spotter course, Gerald Satterwhite, a meteorologist of the NWS, overviewed topics such as identifying types of clouds and tornadoes, development and structure of thunderstorms, and how to safely report this information to the NWS. With a little over six months since tornadoes pillaged the homes of many living in Jacksonville, weather awareness has become a higher concern, especially among those directly affected.

“The severe weather event was forecast a couple days ahead of time, so there was an awareness that something could happen,” said Satterwhite, in reference to the March 19 Jacksonville tornadoes. “It was a moderate risk day, so there was a lot of attention because moderate risks are pretty rare.”

To report any severe weather such as tornadic activity, hail or flooding, you can send a report via Twitter to @NWSBirmingham or make an online report. Before making any reports, be sure to become aware of the basics of storm spotting, which can be found at http://www.weather.gov/bmx/spottertraining.

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