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— Editor’s Note: Jamie Smith, staff writer for the Daily Record, attended the recent Storm Spotters class held at Gravette High School. The class was conducted by John Robinson, warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service, Little Rock. Following is her report of the class.

Even with all the forecasting technology that is available, sometimes the best current weather report comes from eye witnesses.

A class offering through Gravette High School’s distance learning program allowed community members to gain their storm spotter certification without traveling to Little Rock - or somewhere else - to get the information. The event was 28 at the high school. The class was held in a computer lab where the large, flatscreen was used to project a class being offered in Little Rock. There were distance learning sites set up in various parts of the state, said Debbie Skinner, technology coordinator for the Gravette School District. The school uses the distance learning equipment for several types of classes that are not offered in Gravette including Chinese and several courses through Northwest Arkansas Community College.

“I think it’s a wonderful way to share what the taxpayers gave us actually with the taxpayers,” Skinner said of the class, which was open to the public .

John Robinson, warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Little Rock, was the teacher for the class.

He told the participants that it’s important for them to call, even if it’s the next day because that allowsthe weather service to an accurate historical picture at a storm. Storm spotters should call no matter what time it is.

“Even at 2 p.m. on Christmas, we will be open,” he said.

Little Rock’s office does not generally handle forecasts and storms for the northwest Arkansas region - that comes from the Tulsa weather service office.

The participants learned about some of the problems that they must overcome as spotters, including distance perception, and they also learned about the different levels of storms and the dangers involved.

ZenaWeihe from Hiwasse works in the Gravette School District and she was one of the participants in the class. She likes tornadoes and also wants to be helpful in case there’s a storm during the schoolday.

Mike Meek and his wife both took the class. The couple live west of Gravette and he works in Southwest City, MO.

“I love storms. It’s fascinating to me,” he said.

“I wanted to learn what to look for (in a storm).” Several city personnel took the course as well. Chuck Skaggs is on the fire department and the police department. He was already certified but he wanted to get the most updated information, he said.

Skaggs, as well as many others who took the class, thought the distance learning method was effective. “It was interesting and we were able to cover a lot,” Skaggs said.

Debbie Skinner, GHS tech coordinator, said about a dozen persons attended the class, said she hoped to hold another class in the future.

News, Pages 1 on 10/14/2009

Print Headline: Storm Spotter Class Held Recently At Gravette High

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