National Weather Service Hosts Spotter Training Program
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The weather spotter program is put on by National Weather Service offices across the nation every year.
Many weather topics are discussed in each two-hour session, but severe weather is one of the larger topics.
“First off what are the signs that you need to have as far as ingredients for thunderstorm development and then eventually tornado development, and then how to position yourself correctly so that you are not putting yourself or others in danger at that time,” said Todd Heitkamp, meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls.
Measuring both snowfalls, and rainfall, in the correct fashion is a focus as well.
The boom of social media has put the NWS in a tough spot because they know not every report is credible.
“We can’t actually talk to the person, we can’t validate it right away. But if someone calls us up and says that they’re a trained spotter giving us the proper information that we’re looking for, we know immediately there’s a little bit more credibility with that report,” said Heitkamp.
Trained spotters end up having a lot of importance, and help more than just the members of the NWS.
Heitkamp says, “there’s always a need for more. The more eyes we have out there looking at the storm that are trained properly, the better off not only the national weather service is, but the public will be when it comes to their safety.”
He says unsafe habits like standing outside and watching while tornado sirens are sounding, is validation in need for the program.
“Why not educate those people and give them the information they need to better assess their threat, and then make the proper decisions at that time,” Heitkamp said.
The NWS in Sioux Falls is coming down to their last couple of classes for counties in their forecast area.
The training session for Minnehaha County is Monday, April 29th, from 7-9pm, at the Washington Pavilion in Downtown Sioux Falls.