NWS and EMA hold storm spotter class for fall tornado season - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

NWS and EMA hold storm spotter class for fall tornado season

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By Trang Do - Bio | Email

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Alabama is one of only a few locations in the world that has two distinct severe weather seasons. 

With the fall tornado season quickly approaching, some people are going the extra mile to make sure they can spot what's coming before it hits.

The National Weather Service and the Huntsville Madison County Emergency Management Agency held a storm-spotter class Thursday evening.

One of the things the students learned is how to report severe weather in a helpful way. 

For example, hail size. You've got quarter, nickel, penny and dime-size hail. 

From thunderstorms, to tornadoes, to floods, we live in an area that's no stranger to severe weather.

Forecasters can't track these weather events alone, and that's where storm spotters come in.

"It's the adrenaline thrill, I just can't explain it. It's wanting to get out and be the first to help somebody and make a difference," said Dustin Burke, a Meridianville volunteer firefighter. 

He attended the severe weather training course with his father, HEMSI Supervisor Kenneth Burke.

"I'm actually taking it as a refresher, I had it years ago, but it's always good to keep brushed up on the skills of severe weather," the elder Burke said.

The class, led by a National Weather Service forecaster, attracts a lot of first responders like the Burkes, but anyone with eyes, ears and an eagerness to help can learn how to be a storm spotter.

"The radar gives you an idea of what's taking place, but it's very, very crucial that we have the eyes on the ground to report what is actually taking place," said Scott Worsham of the Huntsville-Madison County EMA.

Being able to tell the difference between a shelf cloud, a wall cloud, and a funnel cloud could save first responders precious seconds when responding to an emergency.

The Huntsville-Madison County EMA and the National Weather Service hold this class two times a year, one before the spring tornado season, which runs from March through May, and one before the start of the fall tornado season, which runs from November through mid-December.

It's free and open to the public.

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