Braving the storm

JEWELL?- The Jewell Fire Station was filled with nearly 60 people Wednesday night. Local law enforcement, the Iowa State Patrol and multiple fire departments including Webster City, Williams, and Jewell, spent 2 hours storm spotter training with the National Weather Service.

Mindy Beerends, Senior Meteorologist at the National Weather Service presented information on how to track a storm properly, how to understand the difference between different types of severe weather, and safety precautions that should be taken in the case of severe weather.

“I’m hoping that attendees get an awareness of the severe weather so that they can protect themselves or even become a spotter and help provide information to the weather service so we can help everybody stay safe,” said Beerends.

Beerends has been working with the National Weather Service since 2001 and has been giving spotter trainings each year since then.

“Forecasting the storms and trying to figure out what’s going on and watching the sky and stuff has always been a passion of mine,” Beerends said,”I wanted to help people, and anytime you can put something you really like together with actually helping people, then it’s a win-win.”

Attendees were also given a handout with information on how to report severe weather, what is worthy of reporting and how to register to become a spotter.

Beerends also noted 3 important things for a spotter to always keep in mind:

Safety comes first, always have an exit strategy that takes the spotter(s) away from the path of the storm

Knowledge on how to tell severe weather apart is important for correctly identifying and notifying the public properly

Stay proactive and informed about the current weather; don’t wait for a heads up call from the NWS

“You’re communication is vital…it can help save lives,” said Beerends.

Hamilton County Emergency Management Coordinator Stefani (Hanson) Menage was happy with the event’s turnout.

“I think it’s been a very good turn out tonight. All of the city fire departments, emergency response personnel, and HAM Radio operators, and some of the private public have come out to see the training,” said Menage.

Knowledge about the severe weather occurring during the upcoming months is vital to the safety of each community.

I hope people realize when there’s bad weather and they’re notified by radio, the news, the T.V., that they take into consideration they’re travels and their safety,” said Menage. “Stay home when there is bad weather. Pay attention to the weather signs. Stay safe.”

“I grew up in the midwest, so I’m very in tune with severe weather and what to expect, and I just want everyone else to know what to expect and stay safe,” said Beerends.

For more information on how to become a storm spotter visit www.midiowaskywarn.com. Spotters are especially needed in rural Iowa areas.