The Howard County Emergency Management Agency and the National Weather Service will be co-hosting a Skywarn severe weather spotters class on Saturday, March 25th. The class will begin promptly at 1:00 p.m. at Bona Vista's "Imagine That" facility, located at 1800 S. Plate Street in Kokomo. This is a new location for the annual training this year.
"This training is required for all EMA personnel before they are allowed to storm spot in an official capacity," said EMA Public Information Officer Marty Talbert. "Even with all the technology in place today, we can not do without spotters. Spotter observations are important to the National Weather Service. Our spotters will position themselves based on what the weather instruments are telling the NWS. But we need observers on the ground to confirm what is actually occurring."
EMA officials expect local interest in the training to be high, as Howard County has suffered several significant bouts of severe weather over the past few years. "Although springtime is typically considered tornado season these events can occur anytime conditions are right. Locally we have experienced tornadoes in August and November. People need to constantly be prepared for tornadoes and severe weather outbreaks," Talbert added.
EMA officials encourage local residents to sign up for alerts to their cell phones and communication devices through the Howard County Government website (www.howardcountyin.gov). On the left side of the home page (at the top of the column) click on "Emergency Alerts and Public Notices System" to sign up for Everbridge, which communicates severe weather information to those who subscribe to such notifications. "The system is user friendly, and you can select what information and alerts you wish to receive. You can also opt out of notifications during certain hours or time periods," said Talbert. There is no cost to sign up for the service.
There is no charge to attend the spotter training. Training credits and hours are available for public safety personnel. "We have a number of familiar faces that attend this training every year. We welcome new folks who are interested in becoming weather spotters," said EMA Director Janice Hart. Questions can be directed to Hart at the local EMA office at (765) 456-2242.