Storm Spotters: The Eyes and Ears of the National Weather Service

APRIL 14, 2006 -- POSTED AT 9:45 P.M. CST

LEPANTO, AR -- After recent storms that ripped through parts of Region 8, many local groups are making sure their communities are prepared if storms blow through again. Poinsett County held a storm spotters training session Friday night to teach citizens how to identify severe thunderstorms and tornadoes, but why do they find these storm spotters such a vital part of the storm safety process?


“It's very important to have people on the ground that can help the radar people at the national weather service actually see the storms coming,” says Merle Williams, the Emergence Management Coordinator for Poinsett County.


The presenter from the National Weather Service noted that storm spotting gives an extra edge over the radar in certain situations.


“You really got to have them. If you don't have them out there, you're looking at a total loss of lives, especially at nights,” says Damon Tyler, the Lepanto Fire Chief and a storm spotter for Poinsett County .


Storm spotting is so dangerous. We had to ask, why would anyone want to risk their life to catch a glimpse at the storm?


“To try to save lives. We go out here and risk our lives to try to save other lives in the community,” says Tyler .


So after the two hour training session, what were the storm spotters hoping to walk away with?


"They'll be able to spot the storms. They know the numbers to call. They'll be able to call into the National Weather Service and give them the appropriate description of the storm," says Merle Williams.


The National Weather Service suggests offering these training sessions every 2 years, but Poinsett County officials said because of the amount of storms Region 8 has recently experienced, they plan to offer the course at least once a year in the future.