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Storm spotter classes coming to Roswell

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Jim Tucker Photo This ominous cloud was spotted over Chaves County in 2014. Next week, area residents will be learning the proper term for such a cloud during a pair of storm spotter training classes to be held at New Mexico Military Institute.

Severe weather season is almost here and people wanting to learn more about spotting bad weather may attend two classes coming to Roswell on March 20.

The Roswell/Chaves County Office of Emergency Management and the Pecos Valley Amateur Radio Club will be hosting the annual Skywarn storm-spotter classes at the Daniels Leadership Center on the New Mexico Military Institute Campus.

Jim Tucker is the Skywarn coordinator for Chaves County and he said there will be two sessions the first at 1:30 p.m. and the second at 6 p.m.

“There is no registration necessary,” he said.

Tucker added there is no cost to attend the classes.

Tucker is a veteran storm spotter and he said despite all the technology advancements over the years, the National Weather Service still has gaps in their reporting system and this is where the general public comes in.

“There is certain places where technology falls short,” he said. “The Weather Service still relies on ground-truth observation from spotters that are actually in the area of the severe weather events. They rely on those spotters to relay their ground truth observations.”

Tucker said the first item that participants will learn is safety.

“Folks will learn how to avoid getting hurt in severe weather and how to stay safe distances,” he said.

He said that people will also be taught how to spot different cloud formations and they will also learn certain terminologies.

“They’ll learn how to distinguish a tornado from other cloud formations. They’ll learn what other criteria for reporting to the National Weather Service, such as hail sizes, hail that covers the ground completely regardless of size,” Tucker said.

He added that participants will also learn wind terms as well.

“Those observations sometimes prompt a severe weather warning for the area, the ground truth observations are often responsible for those early warnings that they can get the word out to the public and hopefully save lives,” Tucker said.

“It’s a great opportunity to come and learn about it (the weather) and to be of a community service and to be able to report observations so that the Weather Service can get those early warnings out,” he added.

General assignment reporter Mike Smith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 307, or at sports2@rdrnews.com.