Salina CLASS: Intro to Storm Tracking

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By Scott Roberts

Severe weather is a fact of life on the plains. By understanding why certain conditions are more prone to see storms form than others you can have some heads up on the days you need to be weather-aware. By understanding how storms form and their lifecycle you can know what’s going on when you see storm clouds billow — and you can anticipate what you might need to do to stay safe.

This course is also for those who would like to learn more about protecting family and friends by being a storm spotter. You’ll learn how to safely observe storms and find out what to report and where to report it.


We’ll also discuss simple actions you can take now to be ready for storms later and you’ll receive detailed checklists to prepare yourself, your pets, and your differently-abled friends or neighbors.

While there are three sessions in this course, you will gain valuable information even if you’re only able to take one. At the completion of the three sessions you will be qualified to observe and report severe weather conditions to local emergency management officials if you choose to do so.

Wednesday, March 15, 1-2 pm or 6:30-7:30 pm

In this session, we’ll cover the very basics of severe storms and preparedness. If you’ve ever had spotter training this will be refresher material — but if you’ve always wondered how storms work this will be an ideal primer.


  • Why is Kansas “the heart of tornado alley?”
  • What factors make some spring days more favorable for storms than others?
  • What factors determine whether the main risk is from supercell storms or from lines of storms?
  • What is the lifecycle of a thunderstorm? What features should I look for in each type of storm?
  • What resources are available for me to monitor the weather for myself?
  • Basic severe storm response: simple steps to prepare and protect yourself and those closest to you, including pets, in each severe weather risk.
  • Saline County Emergency Manager Hannah Stambaugh will tell us about the new Outdoor Warning System being installed in Salina this year, and what the upgrade means to you as a resident.
  • One person in each class will receive a free weather radio at the end of the session.

Saturday March 18, 10 am until noon

Replay of the NWS Wichita “Storm Fury on the Plains” Storm Identification training class. Two attendees will receive a free weather alert radio during the session. This session is at Kansas Wesleyan University, Peters Science Hall, Room 201. Two attendees will receive weather alert radios during the session.

Wednesday, March 22, 1-2:30pm or 6:30-8pm

This session will briefly review what we covered in the first two sessions, then offer a chance for detailed discussion around the specific scenarios covered in the Spotter Talk on Saturday. We’ll also look in detail at the 2013 Moore, OK tornado, including a look back at the forecast discussions and model data in the days before the storm.

Other topics we’ll address:

  • Interpretation of radar images in regards to your personal safety as a storm observer
  • Examples of where to watch in various storm types for the hazards you need to stay clear of and/or report
  • How to talk with your friends and co-workers about storm safety
  • Resources for further learning
  • For those interested in being an official storm spotter, Saline County Emergency Manager Hannah Stambaugh will discuss the agency’s expectations and how to become part of the program.
  • Local Storm Spotters/Chasers will also display the tools they use in the field to observe and report weather conditions to the National Weather Service and local/area media.
  • One person in each class will receive a free weather radio at the end of the session.

The Wednesday sessions are limited to 20 people in the afternoon and 12 people in the evening, due to space limitations in the facilities we’re using at the library. Cost for each or the Wednesday sessions is $10The Saturday session is free.

To register: visit and search for Intro to Storm Tracking (available until classes fill).

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