Plainfield Basic Spotter Training
19 February 2003
Bolingbrook, IL - Plainfield, IL (round trip)

Plainfield, Illinois is a town that takes tornadoes very seriously.  Local residents all say "Plainfield always gets tornadoes!" In fact, Plainfield residents all vividly remember an August 1990 tornado (an F5) that damaged the town severely, but never showed its face, becuase it was heavily rain-wrapped.  To this day, nobody has found a picture of the Plainfield tornado!  

The storm flattened several major housing developments, cloth , a large chunk of the high school, and totally destroyed a large church in this town.  In 1995, the nearby town of Lamont was also struck by a tornado, but several photos of the storm exist.  Storm spotters and chasers around Plainfield all have one thing in common: everybody wants to be current on their training, in case a terrible storm like this ever happens again.

This is presentation was given by Bill Wilson and Jim Stefkovich, both of the Romeoville, Illinois NWS office.  The audience was composed of about 50% ham radio operators and about 50% public safety officials (police officers, firemen, emergency services personnel, etc.).

Many had been to the training before, but everybody took the training very seriously because of the deeply ingrained memory of the storm of lasted about two hours and included numerous films . diagrams showing the structure of severe storms, and an extended question-and-answer session.

Bill discussed all the common dangers associated with storm spotting and storm chasing: hazards on the highway, lightning, flash flooding, and, of course, the tornadoes themselves.  The size the purely serious up there were few humorous slides such as "funnel on the ground" (a picture of a plastic kitchen funnel in the grass) and "hidden dangers of flash flooding" (a digitally doctored picture showing the shark from the movie "Jaws" in the midst of a flood as somebody tried to escape their car) perhaps next year's presentation will include "Tornado aloft" with a picture of the British aircraft by that same name.

Although February and March tornadoes are rare in northern Illinois, they are not impossible, so training in mid-to late February is not too early.