SKYWARN makes annual visit to the region

– The annual SKYWARN storm spotter training class returns to Hunt County Thursday, educating local weather spotters how to accurately identify and describe severe storms.

These residents, in the event of severe weather, will report their findings to the National Weather Service in a timely manner.

"Basically our Skywarn spotters are the cavalry. They are the eyes and the ears for the Weather Service when we've got some severe storms or potentially severe storms on the radar," said Mark Fox, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service Office in Fort Worth. "We can talk to them in real time and figure out exactly what they're seeing. We can issue those warnings better and give [residents] a lot more lead time in the process."

The volunteer program consists of approximately 290,000 trained severe weather spotters nationwide. In an average year, 10,000 severe thunderstorms, 5,000 floods and more than 1,000 tornadoes occur across the United States.

Fox says, "Radar is a good tool, but it can't see everything. The combination of the SKYWARN spotter and the radar can really help out the warning process and it's helped us get out some warnings a lot earlier."

Thursday's meeting, which is free and open to the public, is from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Fletcher Warren Civic Center in Greenville.

On Monday, February 28, the SKYWARN storm spotter training class will be in Van Zandt County residents from 7-9 p.m. at the Grand Saline Civic Center. On March 2, Rains County residents can participate from 7-9 p.m. in the Rose Community Center in Emory. The class comes to Bonham from 7-9 p.m. on March 7 in the Fannin County Courthouse South Annex. The Rockwall County Library will host the event from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. on March 12, and SKYWARN visits the Delta County Community Center in Cooper on March 16, from 7-9 p.m.