REST STOP — Snow Geese on their migratory flight north to Canada, stopped for the evening in one of the many waterlogged fields in the area. I-O Photo by Barb Endler
Severe weather can strike in many different forms; and as we are approaching severe thunderstorm season in the state of Montana it is time to turn our attention to this destructive threat.
Close to 100 severe thunderstorms occur across the state each year, producing large hail and damaging winds, and on average six tornadoes per year.
Many of these storms can produce winds higher than minimum strength hurricanes and hailstones bigger than a golf ball, producing widespread damage and destruction to crops, personal property and businesses.
Tornadoes are possible in every part of the state, and can produce millions of dollars in damage as we experienced in Billings last June; along with the unfortunate loss of life that occurred in Sheridan County last July.
To obtain critical weather information, NOAA’s National Weather Service (NWS), part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, established SKYWARN® with partner organizations.
“SKYWARN® is a volunteer program with nearly 290,000 trained severe weather spotters. These volunteers help keep their local communities safe by providing timely and accurate reports of severe weather to the National Weather Service,” explained LeAnn Hermance, Pondera County DES coordinator.
Although SKYWARN® spotters provide essential information for all types of weather hazards, the main responsibility of a SKYWARN® spotter is to identify and describe severe local storms.
In the average year, 10,000 severe thunderstorms, 5,000 floods and more than 1,000 tornadoes occur across the United States. These events threatened lives and property.
Since the program started in the 1970s, the information provided by SKYWARN® spotters, coupled with Doppler radar technology, improved satellite and other data, has enabled NWS to issue more timely and accurate warnings for tornadoes, severe thunderstorms and flash floods.
SKYWARN® storm spotters are part of the ranks of citizens who form the Nation’s first line of defense against severe weather.
“There can be no finer reward than to know that their efforts have given communities the precious gift of time–seconds and minutes that can help save lives,” Hermance said.
SKYWARN° storm spotter training has been scheduled for April 25 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Conrad Public Library.
If you have any questions about the SKYWARN® storm spotter program, give the National Weather Service in Great Falls a call at (406) 453-2081, or Hermance at (406) 271-4040.
Everyone is welcome to attend this free event.