American Red Cross hosts ‘Skywarn’ class to promote weather safety


MORGANTOWN, W.Va.- The American Red Cross in Morgantown hosted a Skywarn class for locals in the area Thursday afternoon.

Skywarn classes is when the National Weather Service goes out in the community to promote weather safety things to do when severe weather strikes, but also, how to report them to the N.W.S. There are currently over 400,000 Skywarn spotters across the country who are the eyes and ears for the N.W.S.  

National Weather Service Pittsburgh Meteorologist Fred McMullen explained being a Skywarn spotter is a year-round volunteer activity for the N.W.S.

“We rely on them to give us information first and that way we can do follow ups for potential tornado surveys, flash flood surveys,” said McMullen. “And their information could potentially lead a warning from the National Weather Service.”

McMullen continued that this class was the highest enrollment the N.W.S. has seen for the Skywarn class in several years.

Residents were able to learn about the history of North Central West Virginia, different types of thunderstorms, where is more prone to see tornadoes, how to report information to the National Weather Service, and more. Locals also learned about different weather terminology like flash floods, hail, lightening, and the difference between microburst and macroburst.

“We have all the technology at the National Weather Service in Pittsburgh, but we need ground truth, McMullen explained. How much rain fell? How big is the hail? Were there trees down? Is there a potential tornado? Because our technology tells us one thing but sometimes what happens on the ground is a different story. So, we use that as a confirming information to us.”

Locals who attended also received information on how to receive weather certificates and how to sign up for the National Weather Service to be apart of the Skywarn system.

You can check out their webpage for more information about upcoming classes.

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