SHERMAN - Meteorologists, emergency responders, and government officials from across North Texas convened for a National Weather Service Workshop on Thursday morning.

SHERMAN - Meteorologists, emergency responders, and government officials from across North Texas convened for a National Weather Service Workshop on Thursday morning.


The workshop began at 9 a.m. in the Assembly Room of the Grayson County Courthouse, and lasted more than three hours.


After a brief introductory presentation, the workshop led the assembled experts through a hypothetical severe weather event in the area.


The National Weather Service’s Weather Forecast Office in Fort Worth sent Warning & Coordination Meteorologist Mark Fox to Sherman to lead the workshop.


Fox used the workshop to emphasize the importance of communication between the media, emergency responders, and area residents in preventing deaths during severe weather.


Fox began the workshop by inviting representatives from the local media, including the Herald Democrat, to stand before the assembly as an informational panel. Emergency responders from agencies in Cooke, Fannin, and Grayson counties asked the panel of journalists and weather experts mostly about the technical aspects and limitations of monitoring and reporting on hailstorms, tornadoes, and other dangerous forces of nature.


During the hypothetical hailstorm Fox used to illustrate the need for clear communication between the problem-solvers in the room, the NWS meteorologist often asked the media to clarify how they would react to the storm’s developments.


One of the most-discussed and most talkative groups at the assembly was a cadre of three trained storm-watching volunteers, Wade Graves, Nick Simmons, and More Knight. The three amateur radio specialists answered many questions for Fox and the other emergency responders, emphasizing their importance for emergency personnel as fact-finders on the ground during severe weather.


The focus on clear communication between the various kinds of storm-watchers assembled for the workshop highlighted a deeper emphasis on communicating effectively with the public during emergency events.


One issue often discussed during the GCOEM’s public meetings surfaced during the workshop — residents are sometimes unsure about the meaning of certain alerts or what action they should take when they receive a warning.


Fox said for example, "those outdoor warning sirens are not meant to be indoors. They’re meant to tell you to go inside and figure out what the heck is going on… They are not tornado sirens, they mean get your self inside. Write that in the paper."


Fox asked each group represented if they had learned anything about each other’s operations, and each responded affirmatively in turn.


Fox said, "You can kind of see that we’re all a lot more alike than we are different, and I appreciate your time."