Storm Spotter class aims to protect families during tornado season


We had stormy weather this week and tornado season is on the way. {} Storm spotter classes are keeping people educated about severe weather - ultimately keeping them safe."Just to learn about tornadoes, to see what to look for when you're trying to spot them!" Stephen Bush, a 12 year old participant said."When we're teaching the class, we're looking for two main cloud structures: a wall cloud and a shelf cloud," Scott Unger, NWS Meteorologist said. "That's something your TV meteorologists talk about quite often."People from across Shelby County are getting a look at what the radar really means."An informed public is a safe public," Hubbard Harvey, Shelby County Emergency Management said. "We just want them to know what it is they need to be looking for so they can make an informed decision on their own and go to a safe place as soon as possible and be as safe as possible."And they're debunking a few meteorology myths..."Lightning does not constitute a severe thunderstorm," Unger said. "That's one of the things we'll try to clear up. The difference between straight line winds and what tornadic winds are. What specifically a severe thunderstorm is, we'll clear that up here in the class."The class trains people like Marcus Thomas, a ham radio operator who helps keep the National Weather Service as well as help agencies informed during a storm."Phone lines are down, cell towers are down, the only way to get that information is by foot in an automobile or a ham radio operator," Marcus Thomas, President, Shelby Co. Radio Club said.And after Wednesday's severe weather outbreak, the Shelby County EMA is aiming to train as many people as possible before the coming tornado season hits."We chose this time of year specifically so that we could get the training done and have people ready right before the Spring tornado and severe weather season," Harvey said.ABC 33/40 is also giving you a chance to learn about sever weather- and storm safety. Our Storm Alert 2013 program starts next week. We'll bring the show to Tuscaloosa, Jasper, Ohatchee and Clay. The first stop is one week from Thursday.