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NWS recruits weather spotters

WINTON – For many, watching the weather is a hobby.

For some citizens of Hertford and Gates counties, it has become much more than that.

Last week, people gathered at the Hertford County Emergency Medical Services building to receive training from a meteorologist with the National Weather Service (NWS) to become Skywarn Spotters.

The Skywarn program allows the National Weather Service to receive information about weather conditions from a plethora of local sources.

“Although Skywarn spotters are essential information sources for all types of weather hazards, your largest responsibility as a Skywarn spotter is to identify and describe severe local storms,” said John Jones Jr., the Deputy Assistant Administrator for Weather Services in his letter to potential spotters.

During her hour-long presentation, Jennifer McNatt encouraged spotters to provide good, detailed and accurate information. She also told them it was necessary to remember that the NWS did not want citizens to risk their safety.

“Safety is paramount,” she said. “We do not encourage storm chasing. The main focus is, if you see it and call it in, that’s great. Don’t seek out bad weather.”

McNatt laid out a variety of severe weather the National Weather Service would want information concerning. They included severe thunderstorms, winter weather and tornado activity.

When Skywarn spotters submit their information to the NWS, they need to do so according to certain guidelines, McNatt told them.

Those making reports are asked to report what they’ve seen, where it was seen, when it was seen, what the weather was doing and provide identification.

“Report it as soon as possible,” she said. “Don’t assume we know about an event. Be factual and avoid speculation.”

After the training seminar, more than half a dozen people were certified as Skywarn spotters.