Preparation, training key in weathering the worst

By Adam Armour/The Itawamba County Times

“I think a lot of the intrigue in weather is the shear power and destructive nature of a storm,” said Jeff Clingan, head of the Itawamba-based Northeast Mississippi Radio Amateurs.

It’s mankind’s inability to hold sway over a storm that makes them so fascinating, Clingan said. You can predict a storm, but not change its course; prepare for the brunt, but not restrain it.

“You can’t control anything about a storm,” Clingan said. “Our human curiosity, admiration and fear are all brought into the arena with the announcement of a storm on the way.”

The best way to prepare for a storm is to understand it. It’s with this mindset that the Memphis branch of the National Weather Service, in conjunction with the Northeast Mississippi Radio Amateurs, will host a training course in Itawamba County to help people prepare for inclement weather.

This year’s program will be held tomorrow, Feb. 16, from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. at the ICC Fine Arts Auditorium. The course is free and all the necessary materials will be provided, so everyone is encouraged to attend.

According to Clingan, the course will be an easygoing affair with different information for enthusiasts and newcomers, so both are welcome. For beginners, the basic course will begin by covering the weather conditions required for storms to form and how these conditions develop sometimes over several days, then gradually work into how best to prepare for such weather.

“It’s all very informal,” Clingan said of the course. “It starts with some general information about the National Weather Service and the basic makeup of weather, then it moves into the makeup of severe weather as well as precautions that should be taken. There are question times scheduled along the way and material for the class is furnished by the National Weather Service.”

Because weather affects everyone, Clingan believes being informed about weather can benefit everyone. This is especially true in regions like Northeast Mississippi, which has a high volume of tornadic activity.

“In this area of Mississippi — due to the terrain — bad weather can slip up on us if we are not, as the saying goes, ‘weather aware,'” Clingan said, adding that a person doesn’t have to be a weather afficionado to gain something from the course. “Anyone who just wants to better understand weather, both normal and severe, should attend.”

According to Clingan, these classes are held several times a year throughout the area. Locally, the Northeast MS Radio Amateurs has been hosting a spotters class during the spring each year to help prepare Skywarn participants — who help in spotting foul weather and alerting the National Weather Service — for the upcoming storm season.

While the number of people in attendance varies with each course, Clingan said support for the programs is traditionally strong. He said he’s seen upwards of 100 people during the most successful of these courses.

For more information about the program or the Northeast Mississippi Radio Amateurs, visit the group online at www.w5nem.org .

adam.armour@journalinc.com