The Delaware County Emergency Management Agency sponsored a severe weather spotter training session conducted by the National Weather Service from its Wilmington, Ohio weather office.
However, the 75 people who were trained Thursday night (March 30) took the course in the Delaware County Board of Developmental Disabilities conference room in Lewis Center.
Andy Hatzoz, National Weather Service forecaster, was the instructor for the training.
“It was the job of the NWS to keep the public safe,” Hatzoz said. “It’s a good way for public to learn about weather prep,” he added about the training.
Sandy Mackey, Delaware County EMA manager, said that Hatzoz was the one who helped with the tornado that touched down last August during the Ironman triathlon in Delaware County.
Hatzoz said even with all of today’s sophisticated weather equipment, the NWS still heavily relies on weather spotters. “The radar is great because we see lots of things in the sky, but if a tornado is low to the ground we may not see it,” he said. “Weather spotters help us verify what’s happening on the ground.”
Hatzoz said the Wilmington office covers 52 counties that are split between Ohio and parts of Indiana and Kentucky. He said having trained spotters increases the level of confidence of the information being given about the conditions of the storm and it’s effect on the area.
Hatzoz said the last few days the Wilmington radar was down and they had been waiting on parts to fix it, but it was now back up. “When one radar goes down, there are others to look at and we still have spotters,” he said.
Many of the people who received the training Thursday were HAM radio operators. Paul Damron, HAM Radio Operator, said he heard other operators report weather conditions to the NWS. “I really like the disciplined way they reported the weather,” he said.
Hatzoz said the weather warnings for Central Ohio and Delaware County are from the Wilmington office.
Ryan Wiesner, 9, was at the training with his dad, Mark. “I like to watch the weather with my dad and brother,” he said. His dad said Ryan will run and get his tablet so he can watch the storm cross on the radar.
However, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. “I’ve been interested in storms forever,” Mark Wiesner said. “Fifteen years or so ago, I wanted to come to one of these spotter trainings.”
Hatzoz had warned in the beginning of the training there could be a severe weather episode. Halfway through the evening, a hail storm hit the area.
Hatzoz asked that the storm be called into the weather office.
Bob Lavender, Delaware County EMA ops manager, called and reported the 1/4-inch hail to the Wilmington office.
By the end of the night Mackey said that Delaware County gained 75 more Weather Spotters from the training.
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.