Weather Service trains spotters in Q.C - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Weather Service trains spotters in Q.C

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Posted: Saturday, May 16, 2009 2:35 pm | Updated: 1:36 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

Queen Creek weather enthusiasts can learn from the experts and give the National Weather Service some help next month. The National Weather Service is taking its weather spotter class to Queen Creek to help residents identify thunderstorms.

The goal is to tip officials off to building storms.

The two-hour classes cover weather safety topics, emphasizing dust storms, monsoons and other weather phenomena typically found in Arizona, said Ken Waters, warning co-ordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s Phoenix office.

Having residents trained in observing weather activity helps the weather service get a jump on assessing storms, Waters said. That quick response lets it determine whether a warning needs to be sent out.

“We can’t see everything. We can’t be everywhere,” Waters said. “We have some fancy technology, radar and satellites and so forth, but that doesn’t always help us in picking out weather events on the ground.”

That’s especially true of dust storms and some thunderstorms, which tend to form quickly, Waters said.

The class has been offered in several other cities — Queen Creek is one of about 20 classes around the state this year — but this is the first time it’s been in the town.

A Queen Creek employee had taken the class and recommended it, which prompted the town to ask about bringing the course into the community, said fire inspector Jon Spezzacatena .

“There is always a chance of flooding in parts of our area,” he said. “If we can get a heads up as to when a thunderstorm is coming, the sooner we can prepare for it.”

Spezzacatena hopes to bring the class in once a year. A few fire fighters and town employees will take the course with interested residents; so far, 15 of 50 spots are filled.

Waters said classes tend to get a good cross section of the community, but are usually especially popular with people already involved in emergency management, as well as amateur radio operators and general weather enthusiasts.

While several classes are offered annually, Queen Creek’s will be the last chance for people to take the course before the monsoon season hiatus. An upcoming class in Apache Junction is already full, although there are still spots left for sessions in Queen Creek and Chandler, according to the class schedule Web site.

Weather spotter class

When: 6:30 p.m. June 9

Where: Queen Creek Library, 21802 S. Ellsworth Rd.

Cost: Free

More information: Registration is required. Contact Jon Spezzacatena at (480) 358-3028 or for more information or to register. For a full schedule of National Weather Service Weather Spotting Classes, visit

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