Severe weather and tornadoes have dominated the headlines over the last year. We visited one of the spring's first severe weather spotter training sessions to find out why becoming a storm spotter is so important. This is what spotters are training to deal with. The worst of what mother nature can send down to the heartland.
"I've always had a fascination with weather," says Rick Bell. He is a storm spotter and was just one of more than 50 people who attended the afternoon spotter training session in Sparta hosted by the La Crosse National Weather Service. Jeff Boyne with the weather service says he's seen an increase in attendance after last years busy severe weather season locally and across the nation.
"That tends to get people's interest up there. They want to attend. They want to learn more. Maybe they want to become a spotter," says Boyne.
The free two hour training session shows people how to accurately report what they are seeing out in the field during severe weather while staying safe.
"i think one of the biggest detriments to weather forecasting right now is false alarms. You see something you suspect and you tell your county people to blow the sirens," says Bell. He says that can cause people to get complacent when they hear the warnings. "The next time they blow the sirens it may be the real thing and you'll end up losing a lot of lives."
"They're the eyes out there. The radar only tells us what's going on conceptually. By turning around and having people verify what we're seeing on the radar it give us higher confidence in issuing warnings," says Boyne.
Spotter reports like these not only help the national weather service issue warnings but they also help our weather team give you more details and a better image of what nasty weather might be coming your direction. Bell says its a way to give back to his community and anyone can do it if you attend a training session.
"learn as far as what you're looking and being able to translate that onto not only helping yourselves but helping also your neighbors out there," explains Boyne.
Here is a list of severe storm spotter training sessions going on for Western Wisconsin. For some of the sessions from the Twin Cities office you will need to pre-register:
TWIN CITIES NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
March 26th Barron, WI
(Barron County) 2:00pm CDT Auditorium, Barron County Courthouse. 330 E LaSalle St Contact Information: Randy Books: 715-537-6595
March 26th Barron, WI
(Barron County) 7:00pm CDT Auditorium, Barron County Courthouse. 330 E LaSalle St Contact Information: Randy Books: 715-537-6595
March 27th Balsam Lake, WI
(Polk County) 2:00pm CDT West Conference Room (2nd level), Polk County Government Center. 100 Polk County Plaza. Contact Information: Kathy Poirer: 715-485-9280
March 27th Balsam Lake, WI
(Polk County) 6:30pm CDT West Conference Room (2nd level), Polk County Government Center. 100 Polk County Plaza. Contact Information: Kathy Poirer: 715-485-9280
April 4th Ellsworth, WI
(Pierce County) 7:00pm CDT Courthouse, Emergency Operations Center. 414 W Main St Contact Information: Gary Brown: 715-273-6751
April 10th Hudson, WI
(St Croix County) 6:00pm CDT Community Room (lower level by jail), County Government Center. 1101 Carmichael Road. Please pre-register Contact Information: Kristen Sailer: 715-381-4911
April 17th Eau Claire, WI
(Eau Claire County) 7:00pm CDT Basement Auditorium, Grace Lutheran Church. 202 W Grand Ave. Contact Information: Ron Larson: 715-835-6545
May 1st Hudson, WI
(St Croix County) 8:00am CDT Community Room (lower level by jail), County Government Center. 1101 Carmichael Road. Please pre-register Contact Information: Kristen Sailer: 715-381-4911
May 5th Baldwin, WI
(St Croix County) 8:00am CDT Training Room, Main Level, Agriculture Service and Education Center. 1960 Eighth Ave. Please pre-register Contact Information: Kristen Sailer: 715-381-4911
DULUTH NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
April 18th Sawyer Lac Courte Oreilles Fire Dept Hayward 8527 W Trepania Road Hayward, WI 54843-3268 5:30 PM
April 25h Washburn Fire Hall Spooner 507 N Summit Street 7:00 PM
LA CROSSE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
April 2nd 7:00 p.m. Trempealeau Galesville, WI Galesville Fire Dept.
April 3rd 10:00 a.m. Regional Webinar
(On-line only) Send email to:
April 4th 6:30 p.m. Juneau Mauston, WI Mauston Public Works
1260 North Road
April 9th 6:30 p.m. Richland Richland Center, WI Richland Center High School
1996 US Hwy 14 West
April 10th 6:30 p.m. La Crosse La Crosse, WI Mayo Clinic Health System
Marycrest Auditorium (2nd floor)
April 12th 6:30 p.m. Houston Hokah, MN Hokah City Hall
Corner of Main St. and County Road 18
April 18th 6:30 p.m. Clark Owen, WI Meadowview Golf Course
800 W.3rd Street
For more information on storm spotting check out the link below from the La Crosse NWS office.