BOWLING GREEN, Ohio (WTVG) - The strength of any weather forecast relies a lot on modern technology, but for all the data we have, it's nothing compared to the importance of SKYWARN storm spotters to the National Weather Service -- and that national program has a local connection.
"SKYWARN actually was a product of the Palm Sunday tornadoes here in northwest Ohio back in 1965", says Jeff Klein, director of the Wood County Emergency Management Agency. "Merle Kachenmeister [former 13abc meteorologist] realized they [NWS] were only seeing part of the information. As an amateur radio person, he realized that was an untapped resource out there."
Kachenmeister might never have guessed the program would expand to 400,000 trained storm spotters and rising. You can join the SKYWARN program yourself, tomorrow at 1pm in Bowling Green. The session will be broadcast live online from BGSU's Student Union building, so you can learn how severe storms develop from the comfort of your own home.
It's important to note Toledo is in something of a radar "blind spot". Our main Doppler coverage comes from Detroit, Cleveland, and northern Indiana (about halfway between Fort Wayne and South Bend). Due to how the radar beams are angled, what we "see" over Toledo might be thousands of feet in the air, and doesn't paint a clear picture of what's happening near the surface.
That can especially be a problem for determining the presence and exact location of tornadoes based on radar, and is a key reason why we always need "ground truth" to help keep communities safe when severe weather strikes.
"The goal for SKYWARN is to actually have local people have access to the National Weather Service," Klein added, "and be able to provide that information to the NWS that they need to actually make the decision."
Time: Thursday, April 18th @ 1:00pm
Place: BGSU campus (Bowen-Thompson Student Union Building)
Contact info: Call Wood County EMA at 419-354-9269, or e-mail email@example.com
Webinar: Live link pending, though the general 2019 online training session from NWS Cleveland is available below.