By Will Johnson

Messenger Reporter

HOUSTON COUNTY – To say the weather in East Texas is unpredictable would be an understatement of mammoth proportions.

If a person is in the right (or wrong) spot in the piney woods, that person might have a chance to experience all four seasons in one day. The sudden weather changes can lead to potentially dangerous or even deadly situations, as evidenced by the floods which hit Palestine in April 2016.

To help better prepare and equip area residents for dealing with sudden weather changes, the National Weather Service, in conjunction with the Houston County Office of Emergency Management is offering a training class on Monday, Jan. 9 at the Crockett Civic Center in how to detect changing weather conditions. The training begins at 6 p.m. and lasts until 8:30 p.m.

According to Houston County Fire Marshal Roger Dickey, the training opportunity will help inform those who attend on how to identify severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. In addition, the training will also provide information on how to relay reports to the NWS.

“SKYWARN® spotter reports are critical for accurate warnings. The training is free and open to the public,” Dickey said.

According to information found on the NWS website, “The effects of severe weather are felt every year by many Americans. To obtain critical weather information, NOAA’s (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) National Weather Service (NWS), part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, established SKYWARN® with partner organizations.”

The program is completely voluntary and includes nearly 300,000 trained severe weather spotters “ … help keep their local communities safe by providing timely and accurate reports of severe weather to the National Weather Service,” according to the NWS website.

“Although SKYWARN® spotters provide essential information for all types of weather hazards, the main responsibility of a SKYWARN® spotter is to identify and describe severe local storms,” the website stated. “In the average year, 10,000 severe thunderstorms, 5,000 floods and more than 1,000 tornadoes occur across the United States. These events threatened lives and property.”

For more information or to reserve a seat for the training, please contact the Houston County Office of Emergency Management at 936-544-7175.

“There can be no finer reward than to know that their efforts have given communities the precious gift of time – seconds and minutes that can help save lives,” Dickey said.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.