WYTHE COUNTY, Va. – Wythe County emergency officials are encouraging local residents to attend the National Weather Service’s SKYWARN Weather Spotter training course, which is slated for Monday evening, August 3.

The two-hour training course will be held inside the Max Meadows Fire Department (823 Max Meadows Road) beginning at 6 p.m. and is open to the general public free of charge. The class will cover a multitude of storm development and safety practices for weather related events.

Students will be instructed on six key elements, including the basics of thunderstorm development, fundamentals of storm structure, identifying the potential impacts of storms and severe weather safety.

In addition to learning the fundamentals of weather events, participants in the training session will also be provided with instructions on what to report to the National Weather Service and how to properly report weather.

In January 2011, Wythe County became one of only a handful of Virginia counties to be recognized by the National Weather Service as a StormReady Community – periodical SKYWARN training for local citizens is a necessary step in obtaining re-certification. This designation has the potential to lower insurance rates for homeowners throughout the county, as well as aid emergency response organizations in obtaining grants and additional funding from the state and federal government.

The last SKYWARN training course was held in December of 2013 at Wytheville Community College. More than two-dozen Wythe County residents, including first responders, local officials, truck drivers and teachers attended the training course. Class participants received National Weather Service accreditation as a certified weather spotter.

“In this part of the country, there’s sometimes a mentality that if there is no tornado warning, there is no danger,” stated Phil Hysell, Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s Weather Forecast Office in Blacksburg. According to Hysell, statistics prove non-tornado storms are often just as deadly.

Students who attend the evening workshop will be given a weather spotter’s field guide and awarded a certificate acknowledging their completion of the course; making them National Weather Service certified SKYWARN spotters.

“In recent years, severe weather has become a greater concern for communities throughout the nation. By offering this course to the public, we’re hoping to give people the knowledge they need to remain proactive in staying safe,” said Jason Kinser, Wythe County’s emergency coordinator.

Residents interested in learning more about the class are encouraged to contact Jeremy T.K. Farley, Wythe County’s public information officer: (276) 223-4522.

Pre-registration is not required, residents simply need to arrive at the Max Meadows Fire House by 6 p.m. on Monday to attend the class.

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