We have our annual Skywarn session tomorrow from 10am to noon at the Luella Collins Community Center in Shelbyville – well, not exactly in Shelbyville but a bit northeast of the village at 419 126th Avenue hidden in the woods on the south side of Boot lake. This session covers the Allegan and Barry county areas. Below is a map I put together for location, however you can use GPS to get there if you have it. The hand points to the location…
This land is owned by the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians of Michigan who also own the Gun Lake Casino. I have know a few of the members of the tribe over the years and am an honorary member of the tribe via a previous marriage. It’s a long story I am not going to get into here….
SKYWARN is a concept developed in the early 1970s that was intended to promote a cooperative effort between the National Weather Service and communities. The emphasis of the effort is often focused on the storm spotter, an individual who takes a position near their community and reports wind gusts, hail size, rainfall, and cloud formations that could signal a developing tornado. Another part of SKYWARN is the receipt and effective distribution of National Weather Service information.
The organization of spotters and the distribution of warning information may lie with the National Weather Service or with an emergency management agency within the community. This agency could be a police or fire department, or often is an emergency management/service group (what people might still think of as civil defense groups). This varies across the country however, with local national weather service offices taking the lead in some locations, while emergency management takes the lead in other areas.
SKYWARN is not a club or organization, however, in some areas where Emergency Management programs do not perform the function, people have organized SKYWARN groups that work independent of a parent government agency and feed valuable information to the National Weather Service. While this provides the radar meteorologist with much needed input, the circuit is not complete if the information does not reach those who can activate sirens or local broadcast systems.
SKYWARN spotters are not by definition “Storm Chasers”. While their functions and methods are similar, the spotter stays close to home and usually has ties to a local agency. Storm chasers often cover hundreds of miles a day. The term Storm Chaser covers a wide variety of people. Some are meteorologists doing specific research or are gathering basic information (like video) for training and comparison to radar data. Others chase storms to provide live information for the media, and others simply do it for the thrill.
Storm Spotting and Storm Chasing is dangerous and should not be done without proper training, experience and equipment.
Yesterday our temps rose to 61° here in Otsego – we had a bit of thunder and a few quick bursts of heavy rain. Our first tornado of the season touched down in Vernon and was on the ground for 10 minutes and at least 50 structures were damaged. Luckily there were no fatalities or serious injuries. Below is the video from WOODTV.
We will see some rain showers today mixing with then changing to snow with light accumulations mainly west of 131. Saturday will bring a few snow showers with little accumulations…
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