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Storm spotter training program brings in largest class

KETR Photos 222.jpg
A structure in Commerce is demolished during a spring 2010 storm that was blamed on straight line winds

FORT WORTH - With less than a few SKYWARN meetings left this season, officials say participation has already exceeded totals from 2011 and set a new record for the program. 

Approximately 4,400 people have signed on to become weather spotters within the North Texas region of the National Weather Service, which serves 46 counties. 

Meteorologist Mark Fox says there was more interest this year in thunderstorms and tornado development because of last year’s historic severe weather season that left large paths in Joplin, Missouri and Tuscaloosa, Alabama in ruins. Fox says more weather spotters mean more eyes on the skies. 

“That really helps, especially once you get a little further away from the radars,” Fox says. “Of course radars are wonderful. They’re quite powerful. But they are located over here in Ft. Worth. The further away you get from those radars and the more eyes we have on the storm the better understanding we have.” 

Fox says residents in much of the counties in our listening area helped contribute to the increase in SKYWARN attendance. More than 50 citizens were in attendance at the Delta County meeting, 125 came to the meeting in Hopkins County, Approximately 130 in Hunt County and Lamar County drew a crowd of about 140.

Fox added,”We’re probably going to end up [total for the region] with a little over 5,000 maybe 5,200 or so. So that’s definitely a record for this time of year for SKYWARN.”

He advises Texans be prepared over the next several months.

“Once we get into April, May and June it does look like our turn is going to come back up into play. Just because we haven’t had much [severe weather] yet that’s no indication of what we’re going to be seeing later on it’s going to be a typical Texas spring out there.”