The National Weather Service will be training experienced and novice severe weather spotters. Pictured is Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel speaking at the Macomb County Emergency Management and Communications Office.

The National Weather Service will be training experienced and novice severe weather spotters. Pictured is Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel speaking at the Macomb County Emergency Management and Communications Office.

File photo by Donna Agusti


National Weather Service offering severe weather training

By: Julie Snyder | C&G Newspapers | Published March 29, 2019

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MACOMB COUNTY — Do you want to know what a cirrus cloud is? What bomb cyclone means? Do you want to learn the difference between a lakeshore flood watch and a lakeshore flood advisory? The National Weather Service will be covering those topics during its free SKYWARN spotter training course in Macomb County this month.

It will be the only SKYWARN course in the county for 2019.

Macomb County Emergency Management and Communications is partnering with the NWS to bring the course to Macomb County on April 6. The class coincides with the end of Michigan’s Severe Weather Awareness Week, which, per an order from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, ran from March 24 through March 30.

“Severe Weather Awareness Week provides a great opportunity to discuss how we can all prepare for and respond to instances of inclement weather,” said Brandon Lewis, director of the Macomb County Emergency Management and Communications Office, in a prepared statement. “Our SKYWARN class presents another option for individuals who would like to take their weather training to another level.”

The National Weather Service encourages anyone with an interest in public service or access to communications such as ham radio to join the SKYWARN program. The trained volunteer spotters provide a line of defense in helping local agencies warn the public of impending severe weather events.

Peter Locke, an emergency management aid for the county, has taken the program close to 15 times over the years.

Locke said the NWS regularly comes up with new tools and terms for spotting and announcing alerts.

“The class keeps me informed on those (changes),” he said. “They explain those terms they use, and they discuss the different clouds and what they mean, and the different weather patterns. It’s useful to have this knowledge if you listen to weather updates on TV or the radio so you’re not asking yourself, ‘What do they mean by that?’”

Locke said that while SKYWARN is open to the public, courses are regularly attended by local Scout troops and members of the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service, or RACES. “They help us a lot as storm spotters,” he said.

Although this will be the only course sponsored by Macomb County Emergency Management for 2019, there are other courses offered throughout Michigan. SKYWARN classes can be taken every other year. To find more information on additional programs, visit weather.gov.

The SKYWARN spotter training course will be held from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at the Macomb Intermediate School District building, 44001 Garfield Road in Clinton Township.

To register, call Macomb County Emergency Management and Communications between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays at (586) 469-5270, or email a registration request to MCOEM@macombgov.org. Additional emergency preparedness and weather-related safety information can also be found at oemc.macombgov.org/OEMC-Home.

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