Steele County SKYWARN Informs Us
This is Severe Weather Awareness Week in Minnesota. Steele County SKYWARN held a class on Monday with Jerry Ibberson and Dave Purscell as instructors. Tornado records in Minnesota began in 1950. The tornado season begins in March and ends October, with June, July and August as the peak.
Two tornado drills will be Thursday, April 14, at 1:55PM and 6:55PM.
Ibberson and Purscell gave step-by-step instructions on watching storms and we watched storm videos to get an idea of what other storm spotters saw and how storms differ. One reason for having storm spotters is that they can see what the storm may or may not be doing closer to the area.
First thing first, SKYWARN want spotters to be safe; that was mentioned many times. Tornadoes tend to have erratic behavior and do not have a typical pattern.
Second, watch as the storms are developing with your head on a swivel looking side to side and up to know where updrafts -- billowing clouds -- and where the downdrafts -- precipitation -- are located. Watch for rotation in the clouds.
Storms could produce flash flooding. Just a reminder, do not drive over a road with moving water. It only takes 4 inches of water to sweep away a vehicle of any size. Also there is no telling what condition the road underneath may be in.
Know where the nearest shelter is located during a storm. If you feel your hair stand on end, lightning is charging and it is time to find shelter. In some areas it is only open field, Purscell suggested to get in a catcher position on the balls of your feet. If you lie flat on the ground, as lightning travels it could get you. Make yourself a very small target.
Hail is measured with coin size, and if bigger, by softball, golf ball or by measurement. Purscell said that large hail stones look like they are small hail stones melted together because that's what they are.
If you are interested in joining or finding out more information, Steele County SKYWARN Storm Spotter, not storm chaser, meet on the third Tuesday (April 19) at 7PM at the Owatonna Fire Station, 107 W. Main St.
Steele County Spotters Map has predetermined "Sweet Spots," which are good locations to view storms and have multiple exits. The county is spilt up as SW/SE/NW/NE and each location has a number.