York County needs weather spotters

John Joyce

The National Weather Service at State College will offer a free training seminar to York County residents interested in volunteering as weather spotters on Saturday, May 21.

Skywarn spotters serve as the local eyes and ears of the weather service, according to a news release announcing the class. Warning coordination meteorologist Peter Jung will conduct the training session, scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. at the York County Emergency Services Center, 120 Davis Drive, in Springettsberry Township. The class is expected to last about 90 minutes.

"We're always looking for information. We have all this equipment such as satellites and radars, but we are always looking for some ground truth or verification of what the equipment is telling us," Jung said.

Residents attending the class can expect to learn about observing weather conditions and interpreting what they see, as well as how to report that information back to the weather service, he explained. Topics will include the basics of thunderstorm development, identifying severe weather features, how to report severe weather and what should be reported, and basic weather safety.

"Basically what we are going to do is talk about all the different aspects of weather, how to observe and identify weather conditions and then how to report them back to us," he said.

York County public information officer Carl Lindquist said the county Office of Emergency Management depends on information provided to it by the National Weather Service, and Skywarn spotters throughout the community only add to the accuracy of the information emergency management receives.

"What is crucial for us, and the reason we have a vested interest in this, is (we) rely heavily on the information the weather service provides to us," Lindquist said. Emergency management uses the information it receives to plan and create contingencies during extreme weather events, and therefore a network of spotters dispersed throughout the county relaying what they are seeing and experiencing on the ground helps emergency planners better execute their mission.

"They provide such crucial information into the National Weather Service. We can't be everywhere, and neither can the weather service," Lindquist said.

The class is free and is open to the public. Residents planning to attend are asked to preregister by calling 717-840-2913 or by sending an email to TAGraybill@ycdes.org.

Current Skywarn spotters are asked to bring their spotter ID cards or ID numbers.

The National Weather Service issued a hazardous weather outlook for Central Pennsylvania Monday.

Sidebar — Recent rainfall and cooler than average conditions have left many York County residents wondering when Spring is going to start to feel like Spring. Meteorologists with the National Weather Service said Wednesday however that the amount of rainfall in the lower Susquehanna region over the last 30 days have been "pretty close" to average.

Warning Coordinator Meteorologist Peter Jung said that York County has received an average of 4 inches of rain in the last calendar month, only three tenths above the annual average for this time of year. The perception might be that more precipitation has fallen over the area recently, but that is because of the events have been sporadic, he said.

"Instead of there being one or two big events, we have seen a little bit of rain day by day," Jung said. The consecutive days with overcast conditions and some amounts of rainfall have been accompanied by lower than normal temperatures for this late in the season, but again, the perception is worse than the reality, the data showed.

"We're just kind of in weather pattern," Jung said. "Sometimes weather patterns change and sometimes they get locked up. We have sort of been locked into a cooler weather pattern for the last couple of weeks or so."

Jung does not expect conditions to vastly improve in the coming week, with the highest temperatures to come Thursday before cooling off again the remainder of the week and into the weekend.

"Looking at the long-range forecast, it doesn't look like a warm-up is in store. We should be in the 70s tomorrow, with highs touching the low-to-mid 60s for the next week."