The Pryor Times

February 17, 2014

Locals learn storm spotting basics

Staff Writer
Cydney Baron

PRYOR, OK — The National Weather Service Tulsa Storm Spotter Training was Tuesday night at the Mayes County Courthouse. The training is offered annually at no cost to the public.

The class was primarily attended by local firefighters, and was standing room only.

Ed Calianese, Warning Coordinator Meteorologist for NWS Tulsa, taught the class.

“Our mission is to issue forecasts and warnings to protect life and property, it’s that simple,” Calianese said.

He discussed “impact-based warnings” which he said are an attempt to expedite response. Calianese said the wording in warnings issued will change in the near future as NWS wants warnings to be as detailed as possible. He said the warnings are too similar as the same wording is used from one storm to another.

The group listened as Calianese discussed wireless emergency alert notices.

“These are 90-character messages. Tweets are 140, so these are short. They are for severe situations,” said Calianese of the technology rolled out in 2012.

“Let’s talk about the life cycle of a thunderstorm,” said Calianese. “A thunderstorm environment is  moist, unstable and has a source of lift.”

He discussed each of these variables and the storm possibilities associated.

He discussed three main “severe weather products.”

“Severe thunderstorm warnings and tornado watches. With these it is crucial to remember to plan, prepare and be aware,” said Calianese. “Severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings are the second one. Here the threat is imminent and information is upgraded regularly. A significant weather advisory is used for strong thunderstorms.”

The class took notes on the types of thunderstorms and clouds: unorganized, organized, single-cell, multi-cell, shelf clouds and roll clouds.

He concluded that section by reminding the group, “real life is not always textbook.”

On the subject of non-tornadic events he said, “most flash flood deaths occur at night and most victims are people trapped in their vehicle.”

He stressed the importance of knowing the roads in your community, particularly which are prone to


“Lightning is the number two weather-related killer. It kills 57 Americans annually, it strikes earth 20 million times a year. If you can hear thunder, you’re close enough to be struck,” he said.

Large hail and strong winds are the most costly weather-related event, he said.

“Wind and hail can cause more damage across a larger area

than most tornados,” Calianese said.

He concluded the course by saying, “Know the direction and movement of the storms. Use technology as much as you’re able. Mobile spotters should observe from near a four-way intersection. If possible, stay updated with latest expectations on what the day will produce,” Calianese said. “Mostly, remember your safety is number one.”