Storm spotters keeping an eye on Smith County storms

Tuesday, May 21, 2013 - 8:08pm

Our storm spotters here in Smith County are keeping an eye on the severe weather.

The National Weather Service alerts these storm spotters when threats of severe weather is heading there way.

Smith County storm spotters are part of an organization developed by the National Weather Service called Skywarn.

"We don't chase storms it's impossible to chase a storm in East Texas because of all the trees and topography here, so we are scattered throughout the county and we are the eyes on the ground for the National Weather Service," said Tyler/Smith County Skywarn Coordinator Don Simonton.

The storm spotters observe hail sizes, funnel clouds and any other patterns that could turn into a tornado through East Texas and up to Shreveport. 

Simonton is in charge of all the storm spotters in Smith County.

Simonton says many of them use Ham Radio, a system that can work through any weather condition.

Even when the phone lines are down.

"We have analog modes, we have digital modes, we have television whatever needed we have that capability," said Simonton.  

Simonton says Tyler is in an area where the National Weather Service's satellites cannot see.

He says Skywarn is a vital network to the national weather service, so they know exactly what's actually happening on the ground.

"We work for the National Weather Service nobody else. We're not responsible for getting weather information out to the public that's the National Weather Service's job. We report to the National Weather Service what we see and they decide if they need to issue warnings," said Simonton.  

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