The class is free and open to the public, and requires no prior registration. This class is ideal for anyone who has no working knowledge of weather conditions, and would like to learn how to identify changes in the weather.
Although modern technology allows meteorologists to track changes in the weather across large areas, specialists depend on local community members to respond with firsthand details about the effects the weather is having on them.
“Nothing takes the place of a person on the ground watching it happen,” says Frank McKay of Richmond County Emergency Management. He believes it is important to train as many laypeople as possible to understand patterns of weather behavior; the type of knowledge farmers have used for generations to protect their livelihood in any way they could.
The class features videos, PowerPoint presentations, and lecture centered around common weather behavior. People will learn how to recognize storms based on cloud movement, how to identify different types of clouds, how to deal with high winds, and potential threats. The two most common dangerous weather situations that affect Richmond County are lightening and tornadoes. According to McKay, “There are more people killed in North Carolina by lightening than anywhere else except Florida.” Those that attend this class will learn what type of conditions are favorable for the formation of a tornado, and what they can do to be prepared in the case of an emergency. Recognizing tornados becomes especially crucial during hurricane season.
Orrock works in Raleigh watching the weather full-time. He teaches classes to people already involved in the weather services as well as people who have no formal training. Having more than five years of experience in the field, Orrock understands not only what is most important for people to know about the weather, but also how to relate it to anyone. McKay says, “He puts it in terms you can understand.” This makes the class ideal for beginners, or anyone who wants to understand the weather for their own reasons.
This class is taught as part of an effort to connect the weather service with the local community by encouraging people to call in and report how the weather is affecting them. With basic weather spotting knowledge, the everyday person can effectively communicate local weather behavior to specialists who can further interpret the data.
Dawn Kurry can be reached at email@example.com or by calling 997-3111 ext. 15.