The prime mission of the National Weather Service is to save lives and property through timely warnings and forecasts. Technology plays a big part through Doppler radar, state-of-the-art satellite imagery and ever-improving supercomputers, but many small scale features cannot be detected or forecast by the above. This is especially true at great distances from the Doppler radar antennae (located in Santa Teresa, N.M. and 15 miles northwest of Alamogordo). Thus the human factor is critical.
Volunteer weather spotters have always been “the eyes and ears” of the National Weather Service in reference to its warning program. Spotters are trained in a three-hour course how to identify hazardous weather features, who to call when certain criteria are met, and how to avoid injury or death by following safety rules. Some basic meteorological concepts are also taught, which gives the spotter confidence when reporting adverse weather to the NWS office.
If you are interested in becoming a spotter, are already a spotter but need a refresher course (strongly recommended every second or third year), or just want to learn more about the hazards of severe weather, you are welcome to attend the NWS Skywarn Spotter Training Session (basic/intermediate), which will be held at the Sierra County Commission Chambers, 855 Van Patten on Thursday, Sept. 18, 6-9 p.m.
For more information, call Donna Sanchez at (575) 740-1209.