Storm spotter training program scheduled for late January

tornado clip artIn partnership with the Paris Police Department, the National Weather Service is offering a SKYWARN severe weather program in Paris next month to train individuals interested in becoming part of the severe weather warning system in Paris and Lamar County.

“Severe weather is inevitable in Texas. Can you recognize the clues that suggest large hail, flash flooding, or a tornado? The National Weather Service office in Fort Worth will answer these and many other question as part of its area-wide weather preparedness campaign,” Paris Police Chief Bob Hundley said.

Anyone interested in being a SKYWARN weather spotter is encouraged to attend the program, which will be at Aikin Elementary in Paris on Monday, Jan. 27, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

This year, for the first time since 2006, tornadoes claimed the lives in North Central Texas.

Six people died in Granbury from a tornado — the first tornado fatalities since the Anna-Westminster twister of May 9, 2006.

Next month’s program will discuss thunderstorm formation, ingredients, and features associated with severe storms.

The presentation will also review tornado formation and behavior, and will give some insight as to why some storms produce tornadoes and some do not.

“Additionally, we will discuss non-threatening clues that may be mistaken for significant features. Most importantly, we will discuss what you can do to keep you and others safe when thunderstorms threaten,” said warning coordination meteorologist Mark Fox of the Fort Worth NWS office.

“The program will also discuss spotter operations and recommended reporting procedures. The two-hour presentation will be in multimedia format, featuring numerous new pictures of storms, as well as new video from the 2013 severe storm season,” Fox said.

“Once again, we have plenty of new material for the training session. We will be showing the 2013 storms in detail, highlighting the subtle, yet important features.”

The fundamental purpose of the spotter training – and of the storm spotter network as a whole – remains unchanged.

“Weather Radar is a great tool, but it only tells part of a storm’s story. Spotter observations are fundamental to the protection of life” said Tom Bradshaw, meteorologist-in-charge at the Fort Worth office. “The combination of spotter reports and radar data gives us the best possible picture of the storms and what’s going on inside them.”

The program is free and open to the public. No advanced registration is necessary.

“By coming to this program, you will learn a lot about thunderstorms” Fox said.  “Even if you don’t become an active storm spotter, you will learn about how storms work and the visual clues you can identify when storms are in your area. This will better prepare yourself and your family for the threats that storms pose.

The Lamar County severe weather program is one of over 60 training sessions that the Fort Worth NWS Office will conduct between January and March 2014. The National Weather Service in Fort Worth provides forecasts, warnings, and weather services for 46 counties in north and north-central Texas.

For more information on severe weather, visit their website at, on Facebook: and on Twitter: @NWSFortWorth.

By Charles Richards, eParisExtra

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About the Author

Charles Richards Charles Richards moved to Paris in 2004 after retiring from a 40-year career in journalism – the last 26 years as a news writer and sports writer with The Associated Press in Dallas and Washington, D.C. In mid-2004, The Paris News coaxed him out of retirement, and he began covering the police, court and regional beat for The Paris News. Then in early 2005, he was switched to coverage of a sharply divided Paris City Council. He was appointed by the City Council in 2006 to the 12-member City Charter Review Commission, which extensively rewrote the outmoded document. His writing awards include two first-place awards in statewide competition for feature writing. The most recent was his 2005 story on a Paris doctor’s startling use of leeches in a successful attempt to re-attach a man’s severed ear. Over his career, Richards’ interview subjects include Alabama Gov. George Wallace, President Bill Clinton, President George W. Bush, David Koresh, Arnold Palmer, Muhammad Ali and numerous other political and sports figures. He is an alumnus of Texas Tech, where he was editor of the school newspaper. He lives in Paris with his wife, Barbara, who is retired after 30 years as a teacher and high school counselor.