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Emergency Management, Homeland Security and National Weather Service host weather spotting class

By: Kayla Dimick | Southfield Sun | Published April 8, 2015

 Class participants learn about supercell thunderstorms during the class, sponsored by the National Weather Service, Emergency Management and Homeland Security.

Class participants learn about supercell thunderstorms during the class, sponsored by the National Weather Service, Emergency Management and Homeland Security.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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SOUTHFIELD — More metro Detroit residents will have their eyes on the skies this summer after completing a free Skywarn Spotter class to make them better qualified to report the severe weather they see.


About 100 residents from local communities gathered at 6 p.m. April 1 in the auditorium of the Southfield Public Library, 26000 Evergreen Road, to learn how to safely recognize and report severe weather.


The event was co-sponsored by Southfield Emergency Management, Oakland County Homeland Security and the National Weather Service. The Skywarn Spotter initiative is an effort to save lives during severe weather emergencies by expanding the network of trained spotters.


Steve Considine, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service, trained participants on how to detect early warning signs of impending severe weather. Those who attended the class learned the basics of thunderstorm development, storm structure and severe weather safety.


“We want to have a weather-ready nation,” Considine said. “You know your weather risk, you know how to take action, and you’re an example.”


Individuals who successfully completed the class received an official Skywarn Spotter card, complete with an unlisted toll-free line, where spotters can alert the National Weather Service of the severe weather they see.


Director of Emergency Management William Johns said it’s important for interested residents to be informed of how to safely report severe weather.


“We need eyes and ears on the ground,” Johns said. “We want people to be prepared. We want as many people as possible to recognize the signs of severe weather so that they can be prepared and can accurately report them to save lives.”


In 2014 alone, Considine said the National Weather Service’s White Lake office issued 112 warnings. The bulk of those warnings were issued in July and September, he said.


Mary Urso, of Beverly Hills, said she came to the class to be better prepared once the thunder and lightning roll in.


“I’ve always been fascinated with severe weather, and I just wanted to be a part of the whole thing and help out with any alerting of the community. I wanted to see if I could be of help and become educated on what to look for,” Urso said.


Madison Heights resident Amy Scheide also came to the class to fuel her fascination with severe weather.


“I’ve always had a fascination with the weather, and I do watch a lot of storms,” Scheide said.


Scheide said her father encouraged her to attend the class to put her enthrallment to good use.


“He said to me, ‘Why don’t you actually just become a spotter, so that when you’re watching the storms, you can actually help people out?’” Scheide said.


For more information on Skywarn training, visit skywarn.org.

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