COPPERAS COVE — More than a dozen aspiring storm spotters turned out for the SKYWARN severe weather program conducted here last week by Mark Fox, warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Fort Worth.
“Storm spotters are the cavalry of the weather service,” Fox told the group. “They are our eyes and ears.”
The two-hour program included tips on how to accurately and safely report severe storms — including tornadoes — from the ground.
The training will be conducted in Bell County on Feb. 8 at the Belton Independent School District administration building cafeteria from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Fox’s presentation included dramatic photo and video images of the deadly twisters that hit northern Central Texas and Oklahoma last spring.
He reminded the group that four storm chasers — three professionals and an amateur — were killed last year when they got too close to the storms they were chasing.
Spotters were cautioned to travel in pairs, stay on paved roads, always have an escape route and keep the
vehicle’s engine running.
If storm spotters are the cavalry troops, amateur radio operators — hams — are the signal corps.
“We need spotters with eyes on the sky,” Fox said. “We need ham operators to communicate those reports. We love amateur radio reports. The sound of the ham’s voice tells us how severe the storm is.”
Priscilla Beauregard and Teddy Bruski, both Cove residents, were among the five ham operators at the session.
The two took their amateur radio training together five years ago in Killeen and have been through the storm training before.
“This training goes hand in hand with what we have been taught,” Bruski said.
“It reinforces and reconfirms what we have learned,” Beauregard said.
Beauregard, whose call sign is “KE5UES,” and Bruski, “KE5UET,” are never far from a radio set whether at home, in their vehicles or carrying a hand-held as Beauregard was at the training session.
At the start of the session, Copperas Cove Deputy Fire Chief Gary Young, the emergency management coordinator for the city, urged the participants to register their telephone numbers with the First Call emergency notification system.
The registration is free and the phone numbers will not be sold, Young said. “This is for emergency notification only.”
Fox, who has been with the weather service since 1989 and has conducted the training sessions for five years, said the weather service relies on 10 to 15 storm spotters in Central Texas to feed information to the Fort Worth office during severe weather.
The team works with a weather squadron at Fort Hood, Fox said.
A member of the Fort Worth staff is an Army reservist and a member of the squadron.