Scot Olson highlighted how the last tornado that did “any damage” in Kittson County occurred back in 1995. It went through the county fairgrounds in Hallock and caused much damage.
“We live in an area where we don’t have a lot of tornadoes, but, you know, every county in (the) eastern Dakotas or western Minnesota can expect to see at least one tornado on an average every year. We’ve been pretty lucky.”
To help people learn how to detect, report, and survive this severe summer weather, the county is bringing back the free SkyWarn Spotter training class. This class will take place at the Kittson County Courthouse Meeting Room in Hallock on Thursday, May 19, from 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm.
The Kittson County Emergency Management Director/Environmental Services Administrator, Olson spoke about the class, including why the county brought it back, what this class will provide, any class requirements, why he see this as an important opportunity, and how people can get into the class.
Due to COVID, Kittson County didn’t hold the SkyWarn class for a couple years, last holding one in 2019. Olson explained how the county brought the class back due to a need for more people to identify this weather.
“With the severe weather, it’s hard in a county like ours, that’s small and sparsely populated, for public safety to… do the weather watching, in addition to their other duties,” Olson said. “So it helps when private citizens get involved too.”
Part of the National Weather Service (NWS), the SkyWarn program is made up of volunteers who are supporting their community and providing the area NWS in Grand Forks, N.D., with up-to-the-minute weather reports.
“When the NWS takes these reports and integrates them with their technology that they have,” Olson said, “you know, that gives them just more ability to warn the community of approaching severe weather.”
Besides being an informational class to the general public, it provides a certification training for serious SkyWarn spotters. This class is approved for up to three CEU (Continuing Education Unit) credits by most public service agencies in Minnesota and North Dakota— for public safety jobs, such as fire departments, EMTs, and police departments.
This class specifically covers how weather develops, how severe storms behave, and introduces people to various storm phenomena that occur in the area. It includes computer graphics, slides, and videos.
“You’ll learn what the storm clouds look like,” Olson said, “and, you know, how to anticipate that there could be a tornado, just things like that.”
For questions about the SkyWarn Spotter classes, visit the National Weather Service website at: https://www.weather.gov/fgf/skywarn. People can still reserve a spot for the class by contacting Olson at 218-843-2113, or can just come to the class without reserving.
Do they plan on doing the class again next year?
“Absolutely,” Olson said. “I plan on doing it every year… It’s really important.”
To see the full story, read the May 19 issue of the North Star News in print or online.