Emergency Management to host Storm Fury event

Marion County Emergency Management is hosting the Storm Fury on the Plains—a presentation by the National Weather Service in Wichita for Marion County residents to learn about safe storm spotting and storm identification.

“Storm Fury is designed to inform not only people new at storm spotting but also people that are experienced. And it has cool pictures and fun graphics that show storms and what the storms look like,” said Marion County Emergency Management Director Marcy Hostetler.

The class shows what the National Weather Service sees on their radar and screens as well as what the average spotter sees while on the ground while looking at the storm.

“It shows that comparison really well. They can’t see what you see. You don’t even have to know all the meteorologist terminology. You tell them where you’re seeing this, what direction you are looking at the storm and where you’re at. For example, if you can tell us it looks like cauliflower coming out of the top of that cloud, well, that means something to the National Weather Service. That means that there’s an updraft in that system. That tells a lot,” said Hostetler.

The event focuses on safety and teaches participants how to spot storms and report on them safely.

“We educate about safety. If that storm’s heading toward you, you might not be in the right spot. You could get injured. All of us in the Midwest love to watch storms—I think it’s just in our DNA. The National Weather Service explains we know you’re going to do this, but this is the safe way to get it done. How can we safely watch a storm on the ground, share that information with National Weather Service so they combine it with what they have on radar and based on that information, we can keep our citizens safe,” said Hostetler.

In addition to the training at the event, Hostetler says they are starting a home spotter program and the information and applications will be available at the event for people to fill out.

“Because we don’t have a weather station in Marion County, anybody that they’re gonna go out and look at it anyway—we’re asking you to sign up for our program,” said Hostetler.

She emphasizes the importance of the event and having storm spotters trained in Marion County.

“We could not do our jobs and keep Marion County safe without spotters. It is not possible,” said Hostetler.“We need people out there who have taken these classes. They can recognize what they’re seeing on the ground. They can report that information.”

She gives the recent tornado in Andover as an example of the importance of having spotters to help save lives and cut down on damage.

“That tornado was spotted on the ground by a spotter before it ever showed up on radar. So once Butler County spotters started reporting ‘we’ve got a tornado’ and Sedgwick County started reporting that ‘we see a funnel on the ground, we see rotation, we see damage’—it wasn’t until after those reports started coming in that it started showing up on radar and the tornado never did show up on radar. Only the debris path from the tornado showed up on radar,” said Hostetler. “I mean that sums up how important spotters are to the county. They tell us what is coming, what it looks like, and then from there, they [National Weather Service] can base the trajectory of the storm. The cities can turn on their tornado sirens and everybody is safer,” said Hostetler.

While there are other Storm Fury events around the state, this one is geared specifically to Marion County and is important for Marion County residents to attend.

“They’ll go through and explain specific details for Marion County,” said Hostetler. “It’ll show for Marion County, you’ve had this many tornadoes, this is your greatest one since this time and how much the damage was. And besides tornadoes, it’ll show the biggest wind incidences that we’ve had and how straight-line winds can be a problem and sometimes cause more damage than the tornado itself.”

The event is free at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 14 at the Shari Flaming Center for the Arts at Tabor College in Hillsboro. For questions, contact Hostetler at 620-382-2144 or mhostetler@marioncoks.net.

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