10 Country: Debbie’s Restless Eyes - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

10 Country: Debbie’s Restless Eyes

February 25, 2003

Tift Co.-- The bad weather that ripped through our area on Saturday had literally thousands of people watching its every move, ready to warn others of danger.

Rarely do we see a guardian angel, but Debbie McLean is one, especially during bad weather. She has scanned the skies for ten years as a weather spotter, with her eyes and ears.

“I watch the clouds and the way they line up,”Debbie says. “Moving pretty fast. Ten minutes ago it was coming from the west.”

An approaching front caused numerous tornado watches. “It’s getting darker back that way and getting close.” And louder. “Fixin’ to get some really heavy rain.”

And wind. Debbie and her daughter Heather watch the approaching storm for literally thousands of people as weather spotters, with the aid of a computer, a television, and a weather radio, when one of their key warning systems quits. “Satellite lost signal because of rain.”

They switch to their outside antenna, finding more tornado watches followed by another of the many visits to the front porch. Lightening gets closer, thunder becomes quicker. “Still on the edge of the line getting to us...” she remarks. She knows people’s lives count on her trained eyes to give them enough warning to take cover if they need to.

Why does she look for storms when others would feel content to stay inside? “It’s exciting just to see the changes in the weather.” The National Weather Service estimates we have 4,500 weather spotters like her throughout Georgia.

She sees the first signs of a weakening storm. “The wind is not up, which is good.” In three-and a-half hours of closely watching a storm come and go, she sees fewer storm clouds and a bird appears. “Storm’s over...”

But, another one could comeback in a flash.

The weather spotter feeds lucky that she has not seen a tornado’s funnel cloud, but has experienced a hailstorm that frightened her.

posted at 6:00PM by dave.miller@walb.com

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