It’s not quite like being a storm-chaser, but weather spotters do fill a vital role when it comes to helping meteorologists make life-saving, warning decisions. The Salt Lake office of the National Weather Service is sponsoring a Weather Spotter training class Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. at the Cache Sheriffs Office at 1225 Valley View Highway. Kevin Barjenbruch, who is the Warning Coordination Meteorologist with the Salt Lake forecast office, was a guest on KVNU’s For the People program on Monday. He said they try to get into the communities in Utah about once a year to provide this kind of training.
“The interesting in Utah is that we have a diversity of weather hazards. So during the weather spotter training we’ll of course talk about severe thunderstorms and tornadoes, because they do happen from time-to-time even though this is not Tornado Alley. But we’ll certainly look at floods, flash floods, we’ll talk about debris flows, winter storms, lightning, wildland fires, high-wind events. Again, it’s quite a variety of weather events that we can provide some training on,” he said.
Barjenbruch said the training encompasses the fact that hazardous weather of all sorts can occur throughout the year. And yes, even tornadoes.
“Going back to the tornadoes, we did have one that touched down near Snowville in Box Elder County. We also had one up in Strawberry Reservoir. Now, fortunately, both of those tornadoes were rather weak and didn’t do any damage (and) nobody was hurt. But as we know from the tornado in the Ogden-area a couple of years ago and also in Panguitch, they do happen here in Utah from time-to-time. Of course, many people still are re-telling or telling the tales of the Salt Lake City tornado (of) August 11th, 1999.”
That tornado killed one person and injured more than 60 as it tore through the heart of Salt Lake City. He said during weather spotter training they’ll look at weather service terminology, how to identify significant weather features and events and what information the weather service wants their spotters to report to their office and how to report it. There is no registration so just show up. The training will last about an hour to hour-and-a-half and questions are encouraged.