Skywarn Class Off Limit to Public

Joey Ketcham

So I just got word that the Skywarn spotter class for my county is off limits to the public. What this means is that unless you're affiliated with an emergency service (fire, ems, police) then you cannot attend. I just heard of this, the spotter class is held this week. This will be the first time in years that I haven't attended a skywarn class in my county.

I'm not sure if SGF wanted it this way or what, but I think it's BS. I'm sorry, but some of the worst and most inaccurate reports I've heard were from law enforcement and ems. Almost like saying that you're not good enough to be a spotter unless you're affiliated with an emergency service.

Is it like this elsewhere besides here? I sent the WCM an email asking if this was a permanant thing or what.
Good call e-mailing the WCM ... he/she should be able to give you an explanation at least.

Sounds like an effort either to contain the crowds and growing interest in weather (I tried to get into one class last year that was so full they turned me away at the door, mainly because the fire dept. chief was there and knew the facility was beyond capacity) ... or possibly an effort by local spotters who are growing more hostile to growing numbers of chasers and other enthusiasts. I'm hearing more snide comments these days by disgruntled HAM spotters who want to put an end to what they see as the 'chaser problem' in their communities.

Personally, I feel like the more people attending, the BETTER. If it helps Joe Local distinguish a wall cloud from a roll cloud, then I'm all for it. Get a bigger venue.
Yeah I just think this was a bad move. Hope to hear from the WCM soon in regards to why this was done. We don't have problems with storm chasers or spotters in the county, generally saw maybe 20-30 people there so don't think it was a problem with it being overcrowded.

Not sure, have to wait and see.
Are you sure that's the only class in your county? I know some offices do a public one and if the interest is there they come back and do one for public safety only...

As a matter of fact, the listing shows they have a 1pm and 6pm class for your county that day. But you're saying both are off limits?
I found this article on the newspapers website which does indicate that there will be no public training this year, so I'm assuming this also includes the 1 PM class.

I also read that this decision was made by the NWS, I think that was a poor decision. That's a crappy deal. After the photographs, videos and reports I submit to SGF they come and say I can't attend the training class. :blink:

Weather spotter training slated for March 29
By The Morning Sun

Crawford County emergency services and law enforcement agencies will have weather spotter training on March 29, Eldon Bedene reported at the Disaster Management Committee meeting Thursday morning.

There will be no public training this year, said Bedene, county civil defense director, because the classes are set up by the National Weather Service, which chose not to do public training this year.

Bedene also reported that Homeland Security funding has gone regional, with half of the money being distributed through a committee. Bedene read the list of committee members, including Crawford County Sheriff Sandy Horton, Pittsburg Police Chief Mendy Hulvey and County EMS Director Joey Adams.

The county received a "COW" last week, or a communications [system] on wheels, Bedene said. The system should be up and running by April and will provide the county with radio backup power.

* The committee stressed that the burn ban is still on for the county and Arma, Pittsburg, Frontenac and other cities.

* Janis Goedeke, with the Crawford County Health Department, said Vincent T. Covello, founder and director of the Center for Risk Communication, will speak on April 19 at Pittsburg Memorial Auditorium. Covello will speak on how emergency services should handle the media.

* Pittsburg Fire Chief Don Elmer said the department's new rescue truck would be in by the end of March.

* Severe Weather Awareness Week is set March 13-17.
I would think that they would at least allow their previous years spotters and ham radio operators, etc into the class. I don't understand having only the EM, Fire and the etc. in there when I'm sure they could really use other help than just those guys. This is the first I've heard of the NWS not having any public class for the area. Like somebody said above I've heard of them having seperate ones, but not something like this.
Yeah for as long as I've been attending them, and it's been many many years since I first started going, they always had one at 1 PM which was for the emergency groups and then they had their 6:30/7ish one for the public.
I can't see why the NWS wouldn't allow the public in. You think if a tornado hits that the Fire Dept, EMS, and Police are going to be able to pay full attention to the current/oncoming weather when there's a disaster? Heck, I work for an EMS service and if we get a tornado approaching, they'll send all of the trucks to fire stations (as we don't have "stations", we post around town at strategic locations and we're constantly being moved. But you don't have time for a station when you run 10 calls in a 12-hour shift). If anything, I would think they would want more people to know how to recognize severe weather. I could understand if it was a private class by someone other than the NWS, or a class specifically for emergency agencies, but not all classes in that county.
I am also sending an email to the Meteorologist In Charge. It irks me that they are basically saying that I, along with other non-emergency affiliated spotters, aren't good enough to attend the training class. I still call it BS.
I don't know anything behind the reason to make the classes closed to the public, but in all reality, is it really THAT big of a deal? I mean, how many Skywarn classes can you go to in surrounding areas? Sure, you may need to drive to the next county, but I'd think that most folks interested in working with Skywarn wouldn't find this to be a major deal. If SGF made all their Skywarn sessions private, then I'd be more surprised. But, as I understand it, we're only talking about a couple of classes out of a more than a couple dozen that SGF does, or a couple private classes out of a half dozen that would probably be within a 45 minute drive. I assume that the folks at SGF aren't crazy, so I assume there's a valid reason behind making these couple of classes private.
Is it that big of a deal? No, it's not. Not enough to make a federal case out of it, but that doesn't mean I can't call it BS. To me it was about networking with other spotters within the county and NWS staff.

I am just interested in knowing why this was decided. There are many spotters, and damn good ones, within this county who - like me - goes to the class every year and not affiliated with EMS, fire, and police but now can't.
Yeah, I do think it'll be interesting to see why they closed off both Crawford county classes. On the other hand, y'all could just caravan the 25 miles to Lamar / Barton Co. MO for the meeting tomorrow.
In our area, most all of the smaller town classes are closed to either LEO or FD officials, but there are a few that are open, and there are usually some open sessions in the bigger cities. I know one of the reasons they do it is because of the location they have them, often in the private meeting rooms of the PD or FD training or something like that, where the general public has no business being anyway.

As I understand it, most NWSFOs will put on a class for anyone that asks as long as you have a sufficiently sized group of people interested in attending, although it may need to be scheduled earlier in the year.
I seem to be one of the few chasers who 1.) isn't a HAM and 2.) never went to a Skywarn class.

So, my question is, what is in a Skywarn class that you wouldn't already know as someone who has 1.) chased more than one or two years and personally witnessed supercells and structure, and/or 2.) someone who has immersed themselves in the science/hobby (IE study of books, web sites, videos, etc.) and 3.) been involved in the 'chase community' long enough to hear the major issues/dangers/techniques discussed time and time again.

For someone starting out, I could see the need, but I guess I'm wondering if it is really necessary for a chaser with any competent practical experience to get Skywarn training. Or if Skywarn training is the only 'legit' way to learn about supercells/weather hazards and be competent in the field.
You would think that a county that just had an extremely powerful F4 plow through two years ago would want as many trained spotters as possible. That isn't right.

Then again, though we have public training in our county, our county (~480,000 people) only has one class on 4/19, and at first release, we didn't even have a class on our schedule.
Like I said though, Dan, it's not that I'm going to learn anything new. You're right, I already know what they teach but I mainly went because I felt it was a good time to network with other storm spotters as well as NWS staff. The same question could be asked to people who attends the Chaser Convention. I don't feel a need to go, but people do so they can network with other chasers, swap stories and mingle.
Personally this was the first year since I was very young that I havn't attended a Skywarn School due to my work schedule. Though I could probably teach much of the course I always like to see how the presentation has evolved and often learn just a bit more, especially in the advanced course.

Of course the DFW Skywarn Classes are always put on by Gary Woodall (Basic) and Al Moller (Advanced) so I'd put them up against any done nation-wide. Of course the public is welcome as well as EMS, PD, FD, etc.

It's all about having educated eye's giving accurate reports. We've got a long way to go before that's achieved.
The meteorologist in charge replied back to me, he's gonna get with the WCM and find out why they're closing this off to the public and that either him or the WCM will get back in touch with me to let me know.
It's probably to keep chasers out so they can't defend themselves when the NWS rips them in front of all those spotters. I think it's wonderful how the NWS always asks for our reports then runs us down at SKYWARN meetings.
It's probably to keep chasers out so they can't defend themselves when the NWS rips them in front of all those spotters. I think it's wonderful how the NWS always asks for our reports then runs us down at SKYWARN meetings.

Down here we always get credit, usually both when the video is showing and at the end. Of course both Gary and Al are chasers. They often ask our opinion on a storm if we were on it.
but I guess I'm wondering if it is really necessary for a chaser with any competent practical experience to get Skywarn training. Or if Skywarn training is the only 'legit' way to learn about supercells/weather hazards and be competent in the field.[/b]

You are probably right about the training, but when attending, you have the opportunity to network with other spotters, EMS, NWS staff, other chasers, civil authorities, etc. It also gives you an opportunity to participate in the training, offering your own expertise and experiences from the field in open discussion. Sometimes you can actually help answer a trainee's questions. It's just another way to contribute to the wx community.

Hopefully this is an isolated case.
It's probably to keep chasers out so they can't defend themselves when the NWS rips them in front of all those spotters.[/b]

I think any chasers that put themselves and others in danger by standing in roadways / excessive speeding / etc. NEED to be ripped by the NWS at spotter meetings.

But to say that's why they closed this training session is downright stupid. That would not be anywhere near the reason.
And plus there are spotters that always needs that training that will now not recieve that training and perhaps lead to mishaps in the field this year; such as inaccurate report, calling a feature by the wrong name.