Do those clouds on the horizon signal an approaching rain shower -- soggy but harmless -- or a potentially dangerous thunderstorm? That question was at the center of recent training given to 95 Jackson County employees to help them better identify severe weather conditions. The National Weather Service (NWS) conducted the training in coordination with Jackson County Emergency Preparedness & Homeland Security Director Mike Curry. The employees who participated work in the Assessment, Public Works and Parks & Recreation Departments.
"Our objective isn't to turn these employees into weather spotters or storm chasers," Curry noted. "But these departments have people who are out and in the field on a regular basis. We want to give them the ability to differentiate between a rain cloud and a storm front. It's for their own protection. Also, we want them to know how to go about reporting severe weather, so that others may be warned."
Andy Bailey, a meteorologist from the NWS Kansas City/Pleasant Hill office, pointed out what signs to look for to determine if severe weather is setting in. Curry noted that anyone with a smart phone or other device that can connect them to the web can access the NWS radar through this link.
Curry is also organizing advanced radar training for area emergency preparedness personnel on Thursday, February 23. On March 16, he'll be attending the NWS local Integrated Warning Team workshop, which will feature forecasters from the NWS as well as TV and radio meteorologists. The workshop's intent is to concentrate on determining better ways to get the general public to be more proactive in responding to severe weather warnings.