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Edina – The National Weather Service (NWS) is tasked with the difficult job of warning the public of dangerous weather. Many tools are used to accomplish this. Among them are Doppler radar, satellites, lightning detection networks, and surface observations. While these are all useful, they have limitations. Based on current knowledge and technology, it is impossible for the NWS to detect every severe weather event and provide early warning, although our ability has vastly improved over the past 10 to 15 years.
To try and fill the gaps between the technology and to provide better warnings, the NWS uses trained volunteers who agree to become the “eyes and ears” of the NWS. Weather spotters provide real-time observations of severe weather events, such as tornadoes, damaging winds, hail, flooding, and winter weather. These reports assist NOAA/NWS meteorologists in making warning decisions. Spotters help the NWS fulfill its mission of protecting life and property, and also help in providing the citizens of their communities with life saving information.
Storm spotter training is not an exclusive club. While people involved in public service and who have good communication capabilities, first responders and emergency personnel are encouraged to become spotters, everyone can benefit.
If you are just curious about severe weather and want to learn more, a spotter class may be for you. The class is a great educational experience for everyone. You do not have to be a storm spotter. You can attend the class to learn how to better protect yourself and those you are responsible for.
Storm Spotter Training is required for those who wish to be listed in the NWS Storm Spotter Database though being listed in the database is not required.
This training is open to the public. There is no charge for the course and plenty of room to accommodate as many people as possible. Those wishing to attend can just show up. There is no need to register beforehand.