Vicki Bentley has always been fascinated by dangerous weather.
“I’ve had a few close encounters,” the Flowery Branch woman said.
In the past two years, Bentley also picked up an interest in amateur radios. The storm spotter class offered by the National Weather Service and Hall County Emergency Management was right up her alley.
The purpose of the event was to educate attendees on the basics of storms, as well as show them how to help the National Weather Service gather information.
“You’re like our eyes out here,” David Nadler, a meteorologist who works for the National Weather Service and the teacher for the class.
When Bentley was an infant, a tornado rumbled past her home in Warner Robins. Bentley said her mother and grandmother thought it was a B-52 bomber plane soaring overhead, since it was during the Cold War era.
Around 1997 she had another too-close-for-comfort experience.
Bentley described a day during the spring of that year when a tornado warning had been issued. She went down to the basement of her Flowery Branch home, and walked to a window to assess the dangers outside.
She saw swirling clouds with a large hole in the middle, fingers of the cloud intertwining in the center. Bentley said she found out later that that same tornado touched down in Braselton and killed two people.
Attendees like Bentley learned about how to spot, assess and capture images and video of storms, including tornadoes. They were also told to make sure they stay aware of their surroundings and stay safe from harm.
“We value your safety more than your report,” Nadler said.
About 35 people showed up to the event, including 13-year-old Karina Krauth. The Gainesville girl said she’s also always liked learning about atmospheric and earth sciences in school.
“I always thought storms were interesting,” Karina, a Chestatee Academy student, said.
She came to the event with her mother Yoli Krauth, who knew her daughter would want to attend.
Both Krauths were able to learn about weather-related concepts like wall clouds, supercell storms and more.
“We see just about everything (in this state),” Nadler said.