Local Storm Spotting Team Receives Honor

Aug 20, 2014

County Commissioner’s meeting.  From left to right: Jim Hager (Field Spotter Coordinator), Frankie Casteel (Communications director at Sheriff’s office), Rick Shanklin (Warnings Coordinator – NWS – Paducah), Jeff Shawan (Butler County EMA Director) and Craig Meador (Director of PBSWRT)  ​

Poplar Bluff, Mo. – Craig Meador and Jim Hager, of the Poplar Bluff Severe Weather Response Team, have been chosen by the National Weather Service office in Paducah, KY, to be their ambassadors representing storm spotters from the entire Paducah Region at their open house being held at the NWS Office on September 20th.

In a phone interview today Meador said, “I consider it a great honor that the weather service has chosen our team out of the entire area to represent the spotters. It has always been our goal to keep the citizens of Butler County safe.” Hager issued a statement saying, “This is a great honor to be bestowed on myself and Craig, but we didn’t do this all on our own. We had great support from the storm spotters that worked tirelessly every time we called on them: EMA Director, Jeff Shawan, Sheriff Mark Dobbs, Chief Danny Whitely, Fire Chief  Ralph Stucker. All these great men were behind us 100% and that gave us a good feeling knowing that they had our backs. Craig and I have worked very hard to get things right like they should be.”

The Poplar Bluff Severe Weather Response Team was formed in 2005 to fill the void created when all area trained volunteer spotters working with the Butler County EMA were let go. Without delay, Craig Meador, Director of the Poplar Bluff Severe Weather Response Team, Jim Hager, Field Operations Manager, Steve Seawright, Secretary, and Frankie Casteel, CCO of the Butler County Sheriff’s Office developed this highly coordinated communication system to serve and protect the citizens of the area when dangerous weather hits. There are currently over 15 active spotters who are National Weather Service Certified, with 9 of those carrying the title of “Elite Certified Spotters.”

When a bad storm is looming, citizens have almost immediate information at their fingertips provided by this team of highly-trained professionals. The spotters are dispatched throughout the region and if severe weather conditions are detected, the information is instantly relayed to Hager and Meador who coordinate with the Butler County Sheriff’s Office to send out the appropriate warnings to the citizens. Their goal is to “give ample warning ahead of approaching storms for our citizens to be able to take the appropriate safety measures.” If a storm does strike, the team is at the ready with rescue efforts.

Craig Meador explains that through the eyes-at-the-scene reporting along with their state-of-the-art dispatch center which utilizes the latest radar software technology and HAM radio equipment, the Poplar Bluff Severe Weather Response Team is able to coordinate with nearby communities and surrounding states to seamlessly disseminate pertinent safety information in real time. They also utilize social media, Twitter and Facebook, to spread the news of any severe weather-related threats.

SEMO TIMES congratulates the entire Poplar Bluff Severe Weather Response Team for their dedicated service to the good people of our region.