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Eyes to the skies: weather spotter training scheduled February 11

January 26, 2016
An early shot of the tornado near Franklin Grove, Ill. Photo courtesy Walker Ashley, NIU Deparment of Geography

An early shot of the April 9 tornado near Franklin Grove, Ill.
Photo courtesy Walker Ashley, NIU Deparment of Geography

On the early evening of April 9, 2015, a large, violent tornado moved across portions of Lee, Ogle, DeKalb and McHenry counties, with winds as high as 195 mph.

DeKalb County’s small community of Fairdale sustained a direct hit from the twister, which killed two and injured dozens of others.

Unfortunately, the odds of some parts of DeKalb County getting hit by a tornado each year are roughly 1 out of 3 – and even though 2015 had a much-lower-than-average tornado count in the United States, DeKalb County still fell victim to one of only a handful of violent tornadoes.

You can help.

To assist the National Weather Service and the communities it serves with early warning and detection of severe thunderstorms, the annual severe weather spotter training class is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 11.

NIU Weather, the NIU Department of Public Safety, the NIU student chapters of the American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association and the DeKalb Police Department, are jointly sponsoring the training.

The free class will take place in the training room of the DeKalb Police Department, 700 W. Lincoln Hwy. The class lasts for approximately two hours, with light refreshments and desserts provided. Parking is available in front, and on the west side, of the police station.

National Weather Service logoPeople who take the class will understand the basics of how thunderstorms work, and know what signs to look for that a thunderstorm is, or is about to, produce severe weather. Specific topics include spotting for tornadoes, what defines a thunderstorm as severe and how to report severe weather in real-time to the National Weather Service.

The spotter training class is designed for people new to severe storm spotting, as well as those who need refresher training. The training is comprised of all of the information that spotters need to be effective and stay safe.

Although this class is most beneficial to those old enough to understand basic weather terminology, people ages 12 and older, or those able to stay focused on the presentation for two hours, will benefit the most.

Walk-ins are welcome, but people who plan to attend are asked to email [email protected] to confirm their intention to participate. For more information, email [email protected] or [email protected].