John Simon, director of Adams County Emergency Management Agency, is looking for volunteers to help with storm spotting. When severe weather threatens the county, the agency deploys volunteer storm spotters to coordinated locations to provide essential feedback to the county’s emergency operation center (EOC). This information facilitates early warning to the public.Local storm spotters largely use amateur radio to communicate reports from spotter locations to the EOC. From the centralized location of the EOC, this information is shared with the national weather service, public safety, local media, and in certain instances other counties.

Volunteer storm spotters are not storm chasers. The agency does not encourage or allow volunteers to chase storms, but assigns a location for spotters to sit and observe developing conditions and report. Safety mechanisms are built into the system and are practiced so that spotters are moved out of harm’s way if the assigned location is in the immediate path of dangerous weather.

Volunteers are required to have training from the National Weather Service to work in the field, however, the agency will facilitate the training for those volunteers who have not been certified. Additional local training is conducted monthly year round on topics such as weather spotting safety, communication procedures, response to the storm in the aftermath, damage assessment, flash flooding considerations, and maintaining communications during disasters. On an average, storm spotters are called out 5 to 7 times per year.

The Adams County Emergency Management Agency will be conducting an informational meeting for individuals who are interested in becoming volunteer storm spotters on January 23, 2014. The meeting will be held at the Emergency Management Office 222 North 52nd Street at 6:30pm. Reservations are not required, but individuals can contact the office at 277-2005 if they have any questions or for more information.