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Weather Spotters Gearing Up for Severe Weather, Free Training this Weekend
DAYTON -- With severe weather season upon us, all sorts of tests are happening across Ohio to ensure systems are in place to protect us.
At the Dayton SkyWarn headquarters, you would find a group of volunteer ham radio operators who help spot severe weather around the Miami Valley.
Over the radio, a dispatcher says "This is W8OK Dayton SkyWarn checking in."
"We're the eyes for the National Weather Service. A lot of times the radar doesn't always pick up everything," explains Don Parker, the Dayton SkyWarn co-coordinator.
"We can tell you frankly that yes, there is one on the ground and we see a debris cloud and this is the kind of information that technology for all of its wonderful things it can do it doesn't give you an eyewitness report for what's actually happening at the scene," said Mike Carter, who has been spotting for more than 30 years. He says don't confuse spotters with storm chasers.
"We don't go out looking for trouble, but if we do see trouble, we want to make sure the National Weather Service can report that out to the public."
Beyond severe weather, "If the cell phones go down, if the land lines go down, if the internet goes down," explains Carter, amateur radio operators can still communicate, so they're constantly our safety net in any sort of large-scale emergency. Just look towards 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina.
While the Tornado sirens sounded for the statewide test on Wednesday morning at 9:50, the spotters from 17 surrounding counties checked in.
One the radio, one could hear them calling in, "Please copy, kilo, bravo, eight, echo, mike, delta - Greene County."
"W8OK, WBSI," Carter called in.
"Make sure everyone's radio system works, our system works, Basically it's a test before severe weather kicks in."
Severe weather the SkyWarn team hopes to protect all of us from. That is why they do it.
"Give back to the community, help make people safe."
If you want to join the weather spotters, there is a free training happening this Saturday, March 8, 2014 in Dayton.
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