Don't just talk about weather, do something

Friday, March 2, 2007

Global warming or not, the weather is on everyone's mind today, whether it's the tragic deaths in the South from some early-season tornadoes, or from the mayhem the blizzard created at the opening day of the Nebraska girls state basketball tournament.

State officials were in a time crunch concerning the tournament, and the show had to go on as scheduled, with empty seats in the stands and many fans listening on their car radios while stranded on the Interstate.

Perhaps the storm will help open discussions about spreading state tournaments out to several sites around the state. That's the case in Kansas, where six towns have the chance to host the games, and boys and girls state tournaments happen the same week.

Thankfully, the only death associated with Nebraska's storm so far was one who died after shoveling snow.

That's not the case in the south, where the twisters took deadly aim, killing a girl in Missouri, eight in a high school in Alabama, and at least eight in Georgia, including two near a hospital, for a total of at least 19 dead, at the latest count.

We know the old adage about everybody talking about the weather ... but there is something you can do about it, if you have the interest and time to devote to the safety of your community.

In preparation Severe Weather Awareness Weeks, set to begin March 12 in Kansas and April 2 in Nebraska, the Nebraska Weather Service office in Goodland, Kan., is offering free storm spotter classes throughout the region in March and April.

Storm spotters play a vital role during severe weather events, according to David Floyd of the Goodland office. "Spotters provide the ground truth that compliments information displayed on Doppler radar, two key components in the severe storm warning decision process," he said.

Each class includes storm safety, thunderstorm development and evolution, clouds and their meaning, severe weather events and reporting procedures. Classes last about 21?4 hours and there is no age limit or special requirements.

And, if you'd like to go even farther, advanced spotter classes will be offered in April.

Basic spotter classes will be at 6:30 p.m. March 12 in the Atwood Prairie Development Center, March 13 in the St. Francis High School, March 19 at the Benkelman High School, March 27 at the McCook Senior Center and April 4 at the Oberlin Gateway Building. Another one is set for 12:30 p.m. March 28 at the Stratton High School.

More information is available by contacting Floyd at (785) 899-6412 or david.l.floyd@noaa.gov.

Our area has been relatively tornado-free the last couple of years, but long-time residents know that's a situation that won't last.

Perhaps this year, when the storm warnings go out, you won't just be able to talk about the weather, you'll be able to do something about it.

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