More than 40 classes are scheduled across North and Central Texas this year, but as the government shutdown continues, more classes could be canceled or postponed, according to the weather service.
(TNS) - Three training sessions on spotting severe storms led by the National Weather Service in Fort Worth were canceled this week as a result of the government shutdown.
The classes are a part of the Skywarn Program, which trains volunteers to identify and describe severe storms to provide reports to the National Weather Service.
The three classes, which were supposed to take place this week in Comanche, Anderson and Collin counties, have been postponed to dates in late February and late March. More than 40 classes are scheduled across North and Central Texas this year, but as the government shutdown continues, more classes could be canceled or postponed, according to the weather service.
“NOAA's National Weather Service has people working twenty four-seven during the shutdown to perform mission essential functions to protect lives and property,” the National Weather Service said in a written statement. “Observations, forecasts, watches/warnings, and all of the infrastructure to support these operations continue to be sustained, meeting all operational readiness levels. These functions are critical to providing life-saving decision support to emergency managers in every county of the United States.”
While work considered essential continues, other research or training, such as the Skywarn classes, have been put on hold during the shutdown.
The Skywarn program, which began in the 1970s, is made up of more than 350,000 volunteers across the country, according to the weather service. The weather service describes the volunteers as “the nation's first line of defense against severe weather.” Many volunteers are police and fire personnel, dispatchers and emergency workers.
“All we have here is very powerful and useful tools and radars, but we need spotters on the ground to confirm that what we're seeing on the radars is really happening,” meteorologist Jason Godwin told The Dallas Morning News in December, when dates for the classes were announced.
The classes are conducted by the weather service in Fort Worth every year usually between January and March, before severe weather season begins in the spring. On its website, the weather service says it strongly recommends that spotters attend a presentation at least once per year.
Skywarn classes are free and open to the public, with no advanced registration required.
Classes are scheduled for Jan. 22 in Centerville and Jan. 26 in Fort Worth, but as the government shutdown entered its 28th day on Friday, those classes could also be postponed.
Find a 2019 SKYWARN Spotter Training class near you at weather.gov/fwd/skywarnsch?sptrsch.
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