Severe Weather Awareness Week: how to easily become an official storm spotter

A free, online course offered by the NWS will make you a SKYWARN Storm Spotter!

Severe Weather Awareness Week: how to easily become an official storm spotter
Jefferson County EMA said it’s in a holding pattern with the federal government to find out if those impacted by last month’s deadly tornado will receive assistance. The Jefferson County EMA said it has completed preliminary damage assessments and has worked with the State EMA to send a letter to the governor to start the disaster declaration process. (Source: WBRC)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Is providing the National Weather Service with important information to help protect lives and property something you’d like to do? Does simply knowing you could save lives by doing something pretty simple peak your interest?

Well, you my friend should heavily consider becoming a SKYWARN storm spotter!

SKYWARN® is a volunteer program with between 350,000 and 400,000 trained severe weather spotters. These volunteers help keep their local communities safe by providing timely and accurate reports of severe weather to the National Weather Service.”

The NWS is currently hosting SKYWARN Spotter classes online through March.
The NWS is currently hosting SKYWARN Spotter classes online through March. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

Each year, National Weather Service offices across the country host a series of SKYWARN courses during the spring and fall months. The courses are designed to teach people with varying backgrounds the fundamentals and necessary information about severe weather.

This includes things like thunderstorms, lightning, hail, damaging winds, tornadoes, and flooding.

You will learn how to spot funnel clouds and tornadoes, how to report storm damage and hail to the National Weather Service and more in-depth information than just basic definitions.

Once you complete one of the courses -- which are currently only being offered online -- you will be an official trained severe weather spotter. This enables you to report things like wind speeds, funnel cloud and tornado sightings, hail, flooding, and damage directly to the NWS.

The schedule for the spring SKYWARN Spotter classes hosted by the NWS in Birmingham.
The schedule for the spring SKYWARN Spotter classes hosted by the NWS in Birmingham. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

In turn, the NWS can better their understanding of what a particular thunderstorm is doing, what it’s capable of and then use that information to make more accurate and timely decisions regarding severe weather warnings.

The reports that are sent into NWS offices by certified SKYWARN storm spotters are invaluable, and can help protect lives and property. If we’ve peaked your interest, be sure to head to this link to register for a time slot!

Classes are free, last roughly two hours and provide you with some interesting and very helpful information!

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