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How to become a Skywarn storm spotter

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) - Even though heavy snow recently blanketed the area, it's never too early to begin thinking about severe weather. The National Weather Service (NWS) needs your help.

Their storm spotter program, Skywarn, is a volunteer program with 350,000 to 450,000 trained severe weather spotters nationwide. These volunteers help keep their communities safe by providing timely and accurate storm reports.

While our radar technology is great for warning storms, a trained eye on the ground can make for improved accuracy.

Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the NWS in La Crosse Todd Shea says that having trained people on the ground is crucial. "We have tools like radar and our computers to help predict the weather, but we need that ground truth and real-time information to add a confirmation of what is going on."

To become a spotter, the National Weather Service in La Crosse asks that you attend one of their training sessions.

"We teach people or give them a refresher training on what types of clouds to look for when there's a threat of severe weather. What type of severe weather reports are important to us and our warnings, and teach people ideas of where they can storm spot at and of course we cover things like safety," said Shea. "We don't want people going out and getting themselves in any kind of trouble."

Spotter training dates begin in March and are offered through the end of April. The La Crosse training date is April, 2 at 6:30 p.m. and will be held at the Marycrest Auditorium at the Mayo Clinic. The classes are free and run for about two hours. You do not have to reserve a spot, just show up. Anyone can become a spotter, they just urge you to be 18 years or older.

Click here for more information and other training sites within the Coulee Region.

Warren Sears

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