GOODLAND — Many Kansans are familiar with weather spotter training offered in spring by the region’s National Weather Service offices, but the Goodland office is offering something new — winter weather spotter training.
“This is something we are trying out here at the Goodland office. This idea came from one of our employees, and we’re running with it,” said Ryan Husted, warning coordination meteorologist at Goodland.
Classes will be conducted in the 19 counties the Goodland office covers in Kansas, Nebraska and Colorado beginning Sept. 18.
Topics covered in the presentation will include winter weather safety and how to properly measure winter precipitation.
Getting that “ground truth” of what’s happening across the state can help with weather reports in winter just as it does in spring and summer, Husted said.
“Our radar can tell us where there’s snowflakes in the atmosphere, but once it gets below the radar beam, that’s where the air is going to be warmer. It could melt and just be rain. We may think it's a heavy snow band, but in actuality, it could just be rain,” he said.
Accurate snowfall reports also help the weather service maintain better records, which can help if counties file for federal or state disaster relief funds, Husted said.
Two or three staff members from the Goodland office will be at each session and will even bring a small ice machine to help demonstrate how to accurately measure precipitation.
The staff also will discuss how to report winter weather to the National Weather Service, particularly using social media and photos.
Social media has been especially beneficial in spreading warnings and other urgent weather information, Husted said.
“It’s quickly becoming one of our main avenues to share weather information,” he said.
The weather service also will have local cooperative observers at the classes.
“We’re going to have them come, and if there’s any awards to be given out for length of service, we’re going to recognize them,” Husted said.