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March 14, 2013

Storm spotter training draws large turnout

CENTERVILLE — A large number of people came to Centerville City Hall Tuesday night to learn how to be a severe storm spotter.

The National Weather Service in Des Moines brought their spotter training class and the 35 who showed up learned where and how to report tornadoes, strong winds, large hail, wall clouds, funnel clouds, flash flooding and snowfall, ice accumulations and hazardous road conditions.

The presenter talked about and used Powerpoint slides to visually show how severe weather forms, like tornadoes.

The presenter said Iowa in 2012 had 16 tornadoes, which is quite low for the state. He said tornadoes can occur anytime in Iowa throughout the year.

Thunderstorms need three components to form: Moisture, lift and instability. It goes through three stages: Development, where the air is lifting, called updraft; mature, where severe weather begins; and description, where the thunderstorm rains itself out and dissipates.

The potential storm spotters were encouraged to take a proactive approach and spot before storms enter the county, which "is vital to the warning process." Spotters were encouraged to stay informed before warnings are issued and don't wait for the National Weather Service to issue a heads-up call.

Safety is a vital component to being a storm spotter. Those who attended were told to try and spot in pairs, stay in the vehicle, do not drive into water of any depth and have a planned escape route.

Those who attended were given a website where they could register their name, address and phone number.

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