Watching the severe weather roll in with a local storm spotter

Travis County SKYWARN storm spotter, Tricia Clarke, at one of her go-to spots in Lakeway (KXAN Photo)
Travis County SKYWARN storm spotter, Tricia Clarke, at one of her go-to spots in Lakeway (KXAN Photo)

LAKEWAY, Texas (KXAN) — During severe weather, radar and technology can only tell us so much. Nothing beats reports from storm spotters on the ground.

Every time mother nature is about to put on a show, Tricia Clarke, is ready to roll. Monday afternoon, she was parked at one of her go-to spots, a picturesque high point in Lakeway near her home.

“Some days if the visibility is good I can see for 30-plus miles,” said Clarke.

Her eyes were switching between her smartphone and the sky, comparing the information she’s seeing while relaying details to the National Weather Service and the public via social media. You can find her @atxwxgirl on Twitter.

Five years ago Clark, 43, decided to get a lot more serious about storms, and became a certified SKYWARN storm spotter for the NWS.

Clarke works from home as an instructional designer, which allows her the flexibility to step outside — safely — when storms hit.

Storm spotting is a volunteer gig, and she’s fine with that because weather and educating people are her passions.

“My uncle actually survived the Lubbock tornado of 1970, which was an F-5 tornado, and so his story has always made a big impact on me,” said Clarke.

She also happened to be about eight miles from the tornado outbreak that hit Garland and Rowlett in 2015. Clarke was taking cover with her family in a bathtub.

And not too far from her home in Lakeway is where Travis County Deputy Jessica Hollis was swept away by flood waters in 2014. The deputy’s badge number is engraved on a bracelet she wears on her left wrist.

“I bought one of her memorial bracelets as a reminder to myself to be careful,” said Clarke. “and also it’s just kind of an inspiration for me to help serve other people and be a public servant.”

Click here to learn more about becoming a SKYWARN spotter.

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