Storm spotter training prepares Fort Riley for severe weather
Chad Omitt, warning cordination meteorologist, National Weather Service, lectures Fort Riley Soldiers, Airmen and civilians about weather during a storm spotter class March 22. The class was designed to inform the participants about the way storms fo... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

Storm enthusiasts and those looking for more information about severe weather gathered in DePuy Hall, 8838 Armistead St., March 22 to learn from Chad Omitt, warning coordination meteorologist, National Weather Service.

"It's about preparedness and awareness," Omitt said. "If you live in Kansas, you have to have a plan for severe weather that looks at where you go, what you do in the event say a warning is issued."

Topics ranged from how storms form to the signs that a tornado is forming and where to shelter in case a tornado is sighted.

"We talked about the principal of getting as low as you can, putting as many walls between you and the outside as possible or tornado sheltering," he said. "And then situational awareness -- being able to have a couple of ways, at least, to receive watch and warning information including something on a mobile device. Situational awareness, planning in addition to recognizing thunderstorm features, those are all what we talked about."

The class was designed to be an introduction to storm spotting, not a certification class. Omitt said there are more classes with the National Weather Service to earn certification.

Senior Master Sgt. Micaela Blain, detachment chief, Detachment 2, 3rd Weather Squadron, 3rd Air Support Operations Group, was in attendance for the class, along with several of her Airmen. Blain said learning from another weather professional was important and she hoped her Airmen also walked away with more knowledge.

"This is really good," she said. "This is the first time that I've had my guys come out to this. I'm sure you can ask them if they learned. I'm going to ask them after this how much they learned and if they found value to this. It's just another perspective."

The 2nd Weather Det., 3rd Weather Sqdn., 3rd ASOG, has a working relationship with the NWS and Blain said it was good to finally put a face with a name.

"We look at their products, we use their information pretty often and I think they do the same -- they look at our observations, they like the forecasts we put out," Blain said. "…(we) get the most information we can -- partnering."

The Airmen of the 2nd Weather Det., 3rd Weather Sqdn., 3rd ASOG, focus their meteorological services to Fort Riley. They work with the Fort Riley Operations Center to issue all weather alerts for the installation. That hyperlocal attention is an added bonus Omitt said.

"I think it's very important to have the local responsibility, so that they have that awareness to what is a threat to the local base here," he said. "Whereas the weather service is looking at the county level. It's important too to mention that we can collaborate as well.

"We can talk to each other internally, we have chat software if we have to talk to each other, share ideas and collaborate about what is going on. It is nice to have something like that here."

After the informational session, Omitt invited the Airmen to Topeka, for a tour of the National Weather Service facility to get a better sense of how they operate on a day-to-day basis.