Several people are now better prepared to spot severe weather and warn their neighbors because of a class in the Valley Monday night.
More than a dozen people from the area will be joining about 5,000 others around the Baltimore and Washington, D.C. forecast region to report damage and scouting for warning signs.
Even with powerful radar and strong scientific equipment, the National Weather Service says having eyes on the ground is one of its most important resources.
"The radar can only detect a certain distance so we can't see everything. The easiest way is to get trained spotters who that know what they are looking for during severe weather," says Jared Klein, a forecaster with the NWS Sterling Office.
For Wende Harris, who lives in Stuarts Draft, the tornadoes this year have hit all too close to home.
"My husband's brother had a barn that was picked up off of its footers, it was twisted a little bit but it was salvageable," says Harris.
She explains the tornado was just a half a mile from her house April 16, and that was part of the reason she came out to the training.
"I've always been interested in the weather anyway but I really wanted to find a way so that if something happens in our area, to be able to know about it and warn my friends and family," says Harris.
Klein says the spotters' information does help a lot with issuing warnings.
"They'll tell us, 'I had tree damage somewhere,' and then that goes into a downstream warning, and that goes into protecting your neighbor so that people will know this storm has a history of producing damage," says Klein.
"The tornado that we had, we had no warning, we just had a severe thunderstorm warning, but it was a half a mile from my house," says Harris.
Emergency officials from Rockingham County say having trained spotters and bringing in the NWS for training is part of the process to make Harrisonburg and Rockingham County a storm-ready community.
Rockingham County plans to have more training sessions in the future, if you are interested in signing up be sure to check the link below for future dates.
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