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The how-to's and not-to's of weatherspotting

Posted: Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

During the daylight hours of Thursday, May 13, the atmospheric conditions in and around LaSalle County were clammy, damp and moist. Overnight severe thunderstorms dumped 2.22 inches of rain in Mendota, and more severe weather was forecast for Lee, Bureau and LaSalle counties.

LaSalle County weather spotters were put on notice at 7:53 a.m. to be aware of possible severe thunderstorms that could include straight-line winds and hail. Even though, the storms failed to materialize, Mendota spotter Kurt Clausen was ready to hit the road looking for exploding cumulonimbus clouds.

Armed with a mobile communications center, Clausen is often on the scene when storms roll through the Mendota - Sublette - Amboy corridor. When bad weather nears and the worst-case scenario happens in the event of the formation of a funnel cloud, Clausen is on his ham radio and cellular phone contacting the Mendota Police Department. Urgent weather priority calls include the spotting of tornadoes (a funnel cloud on the ground), funnel clouds, rotating wall clouds and flash flooding.

"The National Weather Service has a great ham radio set-up, so I know they are listening in when I make (a severe weather) call," Clausen said during the afternoon of May 13.

For the complete article see the 05-19-2010 issue.

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