Never look at clouds the same
WORTHINGTON — Meteorologist Todd Heitkamp, who works for the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls, S.D., promises people will never look at clouds the same after attending a severe weather training class.
Heitkamp, who has led the training sessions for 20 years, will again teach a severe weather class in Worthington, as one is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Minnesota West Community and Technical College Fine Arts Theater.
“There are always two kinds of people when it comes to storms — those who go and watch, and those who go in the basement,” said Joyce Jacobs, Nobles County Emergency Management Director. “For people who watch the clouds, we at least want them to be informed and know what to watch for.”
The two-hour training session is for anyone interested in learning more about severe weather and how people can better prepare themselves when severe weather approaches.
“We want to try and broaden the audience of who attends the training,” Heitkamp said. “This is for every citizen who is interested in weather, and in better protecting themselves and their family against it when severe weather occurs.”
The National Weather Service offers severe weather training courses throughout the year.
“I usually show a lot of videos of tornadoes from inside and outside the area, educate people on how storms form, and how to look for different hazards,” Heitkamp said.
The program is scheduled during Severe Weather Awareness Week, during which a variety of severe weather conditions are highlighted.
On Thursday, Nobles County will participate in statewide tornado drills at 1:45 and 6:55 p.m. Local sirens will sound at those times.
“There are different times so people can practice at work and at home, no matter if they work an evening or morning job,” Jacobs said.
Jacobs also explained that the drills are in place so people know where to go when the sirens go off, especially at a work site.
“I think when we had that bad storm a couple years ago in May, people didn’t know what to do and where to go if a tornado hit during the day,” Jacobs said. “Tornadoes don’t just hit when we’re out of work.”
Jacobs also noted that sirens are intended to warn people inside and outside, and she urges people to pick up a weather radio.
“We oftentimes hear people say that they never heard the siren, even when they live in town,” she said. “We want to make sure people understand that the sirens are to warn people who are outside that it is time to go inside and take cover.”
Citizens are encouraged to sign up for Nixle alerts, a county-wide service that issues alerts via text message, email and over the Internet.
Visit www.ci.worthington.mn.us/nixle to sign up for the alerts.
Daily Globe Reporter Erin Trester may be reached at 376-7322.