JACKSON, Mo. (KFVS) - More people in Cape Girardeau County became storm spotters this month following the overnight EF-2 tornado that hit the a few businesses near interstate 55 on January 11.
Dozens of people became certified “Sky-Warn Spotters” during a training at the Jackson Civic Center Tuesday Feb. 11.
The volunteers act as the eyes and ears on the ground for the national weather service during a severe storm.
At the training staff with the Paducah National Weather Service explained how to identify different types of severe weather.
Everything from reporting wind damage and hail storms, to knowing the differences between a funnel cloud and a tornado.
Rick Shanklin is the warning coordination meteorologist for NWS in Paducah, Ky.
He said having more severe weather spotters helps them issue a tornado watch or warning sooner.
“Spotters can make a huge difference even to the point of some cases saving lives," Shanklin said. “We know from social science studies, and we’ve worked with universities across the nation that some people that haven’t taken shelter with the initial warning will go ahead and take shelter once those key spotter reports come in.”
Shanklin added that new advances in weather predicting technology do not replace the need of having storm spotters on the ground.
“Our spotters are the eyes and ears of the National Weather Service," Shanklin said. “We’re using satellite and our meso-scale forecast modeling. All of those sources of information are fantastic, but we still do not know for sure what is going on until a storm spotter reports it to us, so they are absolutely vital to the warning process.”
In the Heartland counties they serve Shanklin said they average about 60 trained severe weather spotters, but there is always a need for new recruits.
If you’re interested the next two Skywarn Spotter trainings will be on Tuesday Feb. 18 in Piedmont, Mo. and Mount Vernon, Ill.