It is severe weather season across the state and the nation and the experts at the National Weather Service in San Angelo are urging citizens to be prepared. The peak severe weather season is officially between mid-April and mid-June, said Hector Guerrero, warning and coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service in San Angelo.

It is severe weather season across the state and the nation and the experts at the National Weather Service in San Angelo are urging citizens to be prepared. The peak severe weather season is officially between mid-April and mid-June, said Hector Guerrero, warning and coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service in San Angelo.

“We all have to be ready for this time of year,” Guerrero said.

The cities of Ballinger,Winters and Miles all have emergency siren systems in place that are operational when bad weather or tornadoes pose an immanent threat to citizens.

Guerrero and members of his team will be putting on the Skywarn Class at 7 p.m. the Balllinger Fire Department. The class is hosted in Ballinger every other year.

Guerrero said the folks that come to the class will learn how to be the eyes and ears of the NWS by learning how to spot severe weather including tornadoes, wall clouds and severe storms.

Ballinger Assistant Fire Chief Brent Allen will be on hand for the class as he is every time it is held in Ballinger and everyone is welcome to attend.

“It gives us the knowledge to decide what it is so we can identify the hazardous storms that are out there - it is to keep community safe,” Allen said.

The class will be at the fire station at the Annex Building, 106 North 9th in Ballinger at 7 p.m. and will last about two hours.

Guerrero said those who take the class, are considered “weather spotters,” by the NWS.

Runnels County residents are no strangers to severe weather, but around these parts, severe weather is unpredictable and can be quite destructive. Last year, it was no joke when a tornado was spotted swirling in Runnels County on April 1. Officials at NWS said the tornado or rotation, was the result of a super cell that moved over the area from U.S. Highway 67 and traveled from Ballinger to Brownwood. The same day, a tornado was reported in Rowena and large hail was reported. The storm kept moving with another tornado touching down in Voss in Coleman County, with softball size hail reported in Santa Anna and Valera. A little over a year before, a tornado was reported in Runnels County on April 24, 2016.

“It only takes one bad event or storm - you can have devastation in minutes,” Guerrero said. “It only takes one storm - even in a drought.”

Runnels County is not officially in a drought, but Tom Green and Concho counties are. The official long term forecast for this part of Texas for April, May and June, is predicting that rainfall will be 45 percent below the normal levels.

“That long term outlook doesn’t account for big systems that can occur on any given day,” Guerrero said.

Since 1950, there have been 50 tornadoes reported in Runnels County, according to data from the NWS. One of the worst on the list was an F3 tornado which occurred on March 14, 1982 two miles southwest of Norton when three homes and several industrial buildings were destroyed and four persons were hospitalized with injuries. On April 24, 2015 an F1 tornado was reported in the same area in northwest Runnels County about 11 miles northeast of Winters.

Historically, there are hundreds of reports of hail in Runnels County - many in Balllinger, Winters Miles and Rowena. In more recent years, baseball size hail was reported May 9, 2013 when a severe storm dumped hail throughout the Big Country including in Runnels, Nolan, Taylor, Concho, Coleman, Coke, Jones and Menard counties.

On April 1, 2017, isolated supercells that popped up throughout the area, produced hail that reportedly fell in Ballinger and Rowena.

Runnels County is officially part of the infamous “tornado alley,” Guerrero said, which extends from central Texas north to Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota as well as east of Texas from Louisiana north to Indiana, Ohio, to parts of Kentucky, Tennessee, Illinois, Iowa and north to a portion of Minnesota.

Guerrero said he is extremely grateful for the assistance of law enforcement, fire departments and first responders, like the Runnels County Sheriff’s Office, as well as police and fire departments in Ballinger, Winters and Miles. He also thanks the Texas Department of Public Safety.

“I like to give credit to all the folks that help us, law enforcement, police departments, sheriff’s office, fire departments, DPS all the first responders,” Guerrero said. “They help us so much.”

Those who cannot make it to the class in Ballinger Thursday, can go online and check out the Skywarn training at the NWS website at https://www.skywarn.org/online-training/.