HOLLYWOOD — With the start of the hurricane season June 1, Floridians are experiencing the wettest time of year and thunderstorms are an almost daily occurrence. The National Weather Service (NWS) wants the Tribe to be ready for storms as the soggy season proceeds and recently held a class to train people to be SKYWARN storm spotters.
“We started working with the NWS about six months ago,” said Jason Dobronz, Emergency Management Operations Manager. “We installed weather alert radios and trained people to listen to them. In July we will receive a plaque saying we are a StormReady community. We are trying to build a better disaster resilient community.”
The Tribe is the 14th in the country to earn the StormReady designation and the first east of the Mississippi. The NWS StormReady program teaches communities communication and safety skills in the face of pending storms. The advanced planning, education and awareness helps save lives throughout the country. The NWS created SKYWARN to train people to spot and report severe weather in the community. About 290,000 people have been trained nationwide.
Robert Molleda, of NWS in Miami, ran the SKYWARN training program May 22 in Hollywood. Department heads who typically have people working outdoors attended the class, where they learned the importance of relaying information about storms they see. Once the NWS has the information, they can warn people in the path of the storm to take shelter. Molleda showed slides of cloud formations and explained exactly what to look for and where to find the most threatening weather in a storm.
“The SKYWARN spotters are part of the NWS’ mission to protect life and property,” Molleda said. “We need spotters because Doppler radar doesn’t tell us everything; small tornados aren’t always picked up by radar.”
The biggest hazards in Florida are lightening, severe thunderstorms, tornados, flooding and tropical cyclones. The state is third in the nation for the number of tornados annually, behind Texas and Oklahoma. Florida tornados are usually small and short lived. However, the state gets the most tropical systems in the nation and tornados are most commonly found in the outer bands. In addition, Florida is the lightening capital of the country and has the most deaths due to these sudden bursts of energy.
Because of the SKYWARN program, residents in Oklahoma City had a 16-minute window before the recent tornados decimated their neighborhoods, giving people time to take shelter.
NWS will conduct more classes for Tribal members. If you are interested, contact Jason Dobronz at JasonDobronz@semtribe.com or call 954-966-6300.