Storm Spotter Training Underway As Severe Weather Season Nears

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Spotter still

DES MOINES, Iowa – Severe weather season is almost here and training is underway to help meteorologists track storms.

The National Weather Service is conducting dozens of spotter training seminars across Central Iowa. The National Weather Service and Emergency Management Coordinators depend on spotter to provide real-time observations that may not be observed by Doppler Radar.

Brad Small with the Des Moines National Weather Service said there are times when good information can prevent a warning from even being issued if conditions do not warrant.

“I’d rather have five reports about the same storm, than zero reports,”  Small said. “Sometimes we issue warnings, and then we hear nothing . . . we don’t hear about a storm with damage until the day after when we get a call from the media.”

The spotters help to provide information the weather service needs. “Radar does a lot of things, but it does not replace ground reports, what’s actually occurring on the ground,” said Small.  “Radar cannot say what size the hail is, or if there is a tornado, or just a rotating thunderstorm,” said Small.  “We don’t have that last piece of the puzzle without spotters.”

The information offered in the training includes what to look for when storms are forming, and how they form.  Also covered, are the conditions which make tornado formation likely.

“This is great knowledge to keep yourself safe, even if you’re not a storm spotter or chaser,” said Small.  Safety is stressed for spotters as it is for anyone. “Have a place of shelter readily available, the lowest most interior part of your residence building, know where that is, depending where your are at,” said Small.

The free training sessions include information on how storms form, what spotters are looking for and how to identify what they are seeing. More training sessions are scheduled over the next few weeks. For more information, click here.

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