Learn to be a Severe Weather Spotter

Tornado in Aurora, CO, June 2009 If you’re interested in weather – you can learn more about weather phenomena and help keep your community safer by becoming a trained weather spotter for the National Weather Service (NWS).

spotter training
Bob Glancy, a meteorologist with the NWS Denver/Boulder Weather Forecast Office, trains Severe Weather Spotters.

NOAA’s National Weather Service has many tools to identify and track storms, such as Doppler radar, satellite images, and rain gauges. But the best “ground level” tools are the eyes and ears of volunteers, who can describe what’s actually going on in their area. How big is the hail? How fast is the rain falling? Can you see any funnel clouds? These are questions a trained weather spotter can answer for NWS forecasters, helping them provide early notification of dangerous weather situations.

Every spring, scientists from the NWS Denver/Boulder Forecast Office hold 20-30 training sessions across Northeast Colorado as part of NOAA’s SKYWARN® program. The training is usually hosted for the public by local emergency managers or fire departments, but can be scheduled for other organizations. New spotters learn about types of severe weather, severe weather safety, NWS watches and warnings and how they’re issued, types and structures of thunderstorms, types of tornadoes and how they develop, what makes Colorado special, and much more!

There is no charge for the training, and anyone who signs up becomes part of the Colorado All-Season Spotter Team (CAST). CAST spotters receive their own spotter identification number and instructions on what to report and how to report it to the National Weather Service.

Want to get involved? Check the Severe Weather Spotter website for details, dates, and how to sign up for an upcoming training session in the Colorado Front Range.

To learn more about SKYWARN®, and spotter training in other communities around the U.S, visit: www.nws.noaa.gov/skywarn.

Related Links:
National Weather Service
NOAA Weather-Ready Nation
NOAA Weather Radio