LIMA — Tornadoes, like the ones that struck Nashville, Tennessee, earlier this week, can cause death and destruction. The closer we get to spring, the higher the danger is in the region.
In 2019, Ohio experienced 49 tornadoes, a near-record. The worst outbreak happened over Memorial Day weekend, when 21 tornadoes touched down in 10 Ohio counties, including Auglaize and Mercer counties.
On Wednesday night, the National Weather Services conducted a Storm Spotter workshop at the UNOH Event Center.
The training gives emergency personnel, amateur radio operators and members of the general public an idea on what to look for when the potential for tornadoes exists.
“Storm spotters are very important,” said Nathan Marsili, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in North Webster, Indiana. “Oftentimes, people think radar tells us everything about a storm, but there are limitations with radar that don’t give us all the information we need. So we need spotters to fill in that missing information.”
More than 80 people attended the storm spotter class in Lima on Wednesday night.
“We go over cloud identification, how to identify certain clouds that can give you clues to what severe weather to expect and also how to make a good spotter report,” Marsili said.
While May and June have historically been the top months for tornadoes, they have happened in every month in Ohio.
“As we get into March, that begins our tornado season,” Marsili said.
In Allen County, the Spencerville Fire Department takes the lead in watching the weather coming in from the west. Chief Dave Evans says they monitor Van Wert’s EMA traffic for possible deployment.
“Normally what I do is listen to Rick McCoy (Van Wert EMA director) because he’s on it, and then maybe if I feel it’s getting close in the area, I’ll call (Allen County EMA director) Tom Berger to see if he’s aware of it. Then Tom will tell me to send spotters out or not,” Evans said.
Travis Fillhart, assistant director of the Allen County EMA, said the agency needs the storm spotters.
“Every time we have an event, we really rely on our storm spotters to be the boots on the ground out in the field,” he said. “They tell us what they see, where they see it. We rely on them every year, and we get good information from them every year.”
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.