People from Iron, Washington counties attend storm spotter training; STGnews Videocast

ST. GEORGE — The National Weather Service issues advisories, warnings and alerts when a winter storm, flash flooding, hail, or other weather hazards are expected to hit an area, and about 30 emergency responders and members of the public from Iron and Washington counties were trained to be storm spotters Wednesday at 6 p.m. in the basement of the Washington County Courthouse, 197 E. Tabernacle Street in St. George.

Kevin Barjenbruch, National Weather Service warning coordination meteorologist in Salt Lake City, taught interested residents how to spot storms, including tornadoes, hurricanes, hail, and flash floods.

Watch the videocast, click play arrow  play-arrow  in center of image top of this story

“The goal is, as events unfold, we will get reports via a number of different methods into our office,” Barjenbruch said. “So there is the option to submit reports online or to just give us a call with weather information …. if we’re looking for, in the case of a heavy rainfall event, how much rain occurred, if there was any flooding that’s occurring and any damage.”

As the season changes into summer months the National Weather Service looks for the possibility of tornadoes or large hail, he said.

Bajenbruch shared how storm spotters may identify certain weather occurrences to be reported to him and his associates at the National Weather Service office in Salt Lake City, including the following:

Flooding, flash flooding, heavy rainfall

  • Rapid rise of water along a stream, wash, or low lying area after a heavy rainfall
  • Water approaching bank, full or nearing roads and structures
  • Inch or more of rainfall observed in a “short duration” of time
  • Any observed flooding
  • Debris flows

Winter weather

  • Snowfall accumulations (how much in what time period)
  • Snow depth
  • Freezing rain accumulation
  • Precipitation type changes

Fire weather

  • New wildfire starts
  • Smoke reducing visibility to less than 2 miles
  • Weather pattern change that could give insight to NWS forecasters

Convective weather

In short, according to the NWS glossary, the term convection in meteorology is used specifically to describe vertical transport of heat and moisture in the atmosphere, especially by updrafts and downdrafts in an unstable atmosphere.

  • Tornado – violently rotating column of air that touches the ground
  • Funnel cloud – violently rotating column of air that does not reach the ground (watch for rotation)
  • Wall cloud – an isolated lowering form cumulonimbus cloud base that resembles a pedestal (watch for rotation and persistence)
  • Hail – any size
  • Wind
    • Damage – structure, trees uprooted, and/or large healthy limbs down
    • Speed – approximately 50 mph or stronger


  • Winds and waves impacting craft
  • Waterspouts
  • Dense fog

Submitting a weather report to the National Weather Service

Barjenbruch encouraged videoing the weather observed if it doesn’t put the storm spotter in danger. He was happy with the response at the training meeting, Barjenbruch said.

“We were impressed with the large crowd and the interactive nature of the audience,” he said. “There were lots of great questions so I think we are going to be getting some great reports as we go through the next year or two, hopefully.”

Choundry Ali with the American Red Cross said he came to learn more on how to help the community in Washington County. Ali said he enjoyed learning how to react to weather in the county and become a weather spotter to help the National Weather Service and how they operate.

“It was actually really good information just to know how this whole storm system works and what to look for,” he said.


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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.



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