Iowa tornado drill today

With spring now underway, people are now awaiting warmer temperatures and the opportunities to spend more time outside.

But in addition to the warmer weather comes the possibility of strong storms and tornadoes.

To help prepare for the possibility of tornadoes, every year Webster County Emergency Management teams up with the National Weather Service to offer free tornado spotter training for both those who watch the weather and people who are curious as to what to look for if a strong storm hits.

Tony Jorgensen, Webster County Emergency Management coordinator, said tornado spotter training is held every year in the early spring. The most recent training session was held last Thursday at Iowa Central Community College.

Jorgensen said the tornado spotter training provides helpful information to those who attend.

“It teaches about the types of cloud formations that could lead to a tornado, how to identify them and how to position yourself to spot a tornado safely,” he said. “It also talks about which clouds indicate the possibility of a tornado and which ones can fool you.”

The training usually sees a large number of attendees, but Jorgensen said more people attend if there has been a recent strong tornado.

“For many years we were getting over 100 people,” Jorgensen said. “That coincided with when we had many severe storms.”

This year’s training session saw about 40 people attendance.

The program has proven to be popular.

“Generally everybody I’ve talked to has loved it,” Jorgensen said. “Everybody from volunteer firefighters to ham radio operators to children. The children really enjoy it.”

“Even if you’re not going to become a spotter, it’s really good information for safety awareness,” he added.

That includes knowing what to look out for if severe weather approaches.

“As a member of the public, you become much more aware of the weather we’re going to encounter in the local area,” he said. “We have great weather forecasting, but it’s a public safety issue for people to understand what the weather is doing.”