LIMA — Spring is nearly here, and with that comes the threat of severe storms or even tornadoes.
“Last year we had 43 confirmed tornadoes in Ohio, up from usually about 19 and one half to 20-21 and a half,” said Tom Berger, director of homeland security and emergency management for Allen County.
A storm spotter training workshop was held Wednesday night at the UNOH Event Center to give area first responders, amateur radio operators and the general public a chance to recognize the various types of situations where tornadoes can form.
“The National Weather Service has a mission to save lives, minimize loss and reduce property loss. Part of the way we do that is issuing warnings. In the whole process of doing all that, we have great technology, but one of the things we’re missing is eyes on the sky,” said Michael Lewis, Warning Coordination Meteorologist for the National Weather Service out of Syracuse, Indiana.
“All this great technology still has limitations and we’ve been finding spotters are really the most important part of the picture painting for us.”
Around 60 people signed up for the storm spotter class in Lima.
“We cover 37 counties, a broad area, and when we get further away from the radar, we actually have less detection capability at the ground level. So again, we get more people trained to tell us what’s going on and they know what to tell us and how to tell us. That’s what spotter training is all about: making sure people have the tools that they can get the information to us.”
This area is susceptible to tornadoes that can’t be seen by the radar in northern Indiana.
“By the time you get over here to into northwest Ohio, you’re looking at about 4,000-5,000 feet off the ground. Tornadoes occur on the ground and there’s 5,000 foot that we’re just not able to sample and so that’s the capturing. We have to be able to have those people look into the sky and keep an eye on it. It helps fill in that gap between the ground and the radar’s beam,” Lewis noted.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.