How to become an official storm spotter

Help the National Weather Service during impactful and/or severe weather
Video of potential tornado in Mackenzie, Alabama.
Video of potential tornado in Mackenzie, Alabama.((Source: WSFA 12 News via Jason Ward))
Published: Feb. 21, 2022 at 11:20 AM CST|Updated: Feb. 21, 2022 at 3:28 PM CST
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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 interest you?

Well, you should most definitely consider becoming a SKYWARN storm spotter!

Taking a SKYWARN storm spotter course will make you a certified storm spotter to help the NWS...
Taking a SKYWARN storm spotter course will make you a certified storm spotter to help the NWS out during peak severe weather season.(WSFA 12 News)

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.”

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 only being offered online this spring -- 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 list of courses offered by NWS Birmingham this spring.
The list of courses offered by NWS Birmingham this spring.(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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