|Story by Rob Schuette, Public Affairs Staff
The advent of spring and summer at Fort McCoy brings an increased risk
of tornadoes, hail, thunderstorms and high winds.
Fort McCoy personnel who attended weather-spotter training March 21 at
the installation are helping to lay the groundwork for increased safety
of the Fort McCoy Soldier, Family and Civilian community.
Weather-spotter class attendees
learn about detecting and reporting severe weather conditions.
(Photo by Tom Michele)
Quentin Graham, Emergency Management specialist for the Fort McCoy
Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security (DPTMS), said
the training presented by the National Weather Service (NWS) will help
installation Emergency Management support personnel react to and issue
warnings about impending severe weather.
“We wanted to get information about severe weather into the hands of
individuals who could help protect the Fort McCoy community,” Graham
said. “More than half of individuals attending were from either the
Directorate of Emergency Services (DES) or DPTMS Range Control. “
“They would be the most likely individuals out in the field who are
equipped to report severe weather conditions. It is important that our
initial spotters are trained to report timely and accurate weather
information to the Directorate of Emergency Services 24/7 Dispatch
center in order to sound the External Mass Warning and Notification
system and notify DPTMS Range Control for troops in the field.”
Severe weather can affect many of the activities outside that occur at
Fort McCoy in the spring and summer months, such as training,
construction or other field work, Graham said.
Troops often have or use metal objects, such as communications
equipment, during their training.
Being able to turn off or quickly disassemble the equipment in advance
of severe weather can increase troop safety.
Robert Nordby of the Fort McCoy DES said several members of the
installation’s police department attended the training because the
department provides a 24/7 presence patrolling the installation.
“They serve as our eyes and ears at all times during the day,” Nordby
said. “The officers are not only looking for ‘bad’ guys, they are
looking out for the safety of the community. When you have well-trained
officers, they can recognize bad weather is coming and get the word out,
not only to the work force in the cantonment area, but out to those
training in the field.”
Tim Caucutt of DPTMS Range Control said he attended the training because
he works with units in the field and wants to help ensure their safety
“We can use the information from the course to help determine if we are
getting false calls about the weather,” Caucutt said. “We can inform the
units in the field about the deteriorating weather conditions.”
Tim Halbach, a meteorologist with NWS at La Crosse, presented the
program. His presentation illustrated the weather conditions the
spotters might observe and explained how human input remains vital to
the overall effectiveness of the system, which includes the use of radar
to help predict the weather, he said.
“We provide a lot of courses at this time of year to help prepare for
the severe-weather season,” Halbach said. “We might see something on the
radar, but having ‘eyes’ on the ground helps us calibrate or validate
what we’re seeing.”
For example, the radar might pick up a hail storm in progress, but that
doesn’t always give complete details about the storm’s severity, Halbach
Weather spotters on the ground can have a great deal of influence on
what is reported/recommended, if they observe one-half inch diameter or
golf-ball size hail is occurring, and can relay that information to the
NWS, he said.
“The main thing is that we want to save lives,” Halbach said. “We want
people to call and tell us what’s happening, so that we can put out an
For more information about the weather spotters training in the Fort
McCoy community, contact Graham at 608-388-2763.
For more information about the NWS or weather-spotter classes, visit the
websites www.weather.gov or