Storm spotting classes slated in Clovis, Portales Tuesday

By Helena Rodriguez, PNT Staff Writer

Following last year’s devastating trail of tornado destruction in Clovis, Roosevelt and Quay counties, interest in storm spotting is expected to be particularly high this year.

The National Weather Service will conduct free storm spotter courses Tuesday in Clovis and Portales. Anyone interested in becoming a storm spotter or storm spotters interested in a refresher course are welcome to attend. The updated course, which lasts 2 1/2 hours, will include information on advance storm spotting.

Sunday will mark the first anniversary of the March 23 storm and tornado that destroyed more than 500 homes and buildings in southeastern New Mexico, causing millions of dollars in damage.

While tornados can occur anytime of the year, peak tornado occurrences happen in the South between March and May, according to the National Weather Service.

“There will be a specific section on supercell thunderstorms and an emphasize on the potential for tornados, large hail and damaging winds, during these storms,” said Chuck Jones, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque.

Ken De Los Santos, the Emergency Management director for the city of Clovis and Curry County, said, “The courses are offered for two reasons. One, for citizens who want to know a little more about the weather when they see clouds forming, so they have an understanding. Just because they attend the course, though, doesn’t mean they have to be a storm spotter. But also, the course is offered for those wanting to be storm spotters.”

According to De Los Santos, there are at least 40 storm spotters in the Curry and Roosevelt county areas. He said that storm spotters serve as checks and balances between meteorologists, who monitor radars, and, what is actually happening on the ground.

“If there are storm spotters, that gives us a better idea of the accuracy of their (the meteorologists’ reports),” De Los Santos said. “The National Weather Service observes everything on the radar, but we count on storm spotters to tell them what they actually see out there.

Meeting Schedule

What: Free Storm Spotting course by the National Weather Service
• Clovis City Hall Assembly Room, 321 Connelly, 1:30 to 4 p.m., Tuesday
• Portales Memorial Building, 300 E. 7th, 6 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday
Information: 763-9485 or 356-4404, ext. 202