SKYWARN Spotter training held at 22News

Spotters provide reports of severe weather to the National Weather Service

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – This is the time of year we typically start to get thunderstorms, and it’s important to be able to spot and report severe storms.

It was a severe thunderstorm that produced a tornado on June 1, 2011. “I lived in Missouri for 32 years, moved here and got hit by a tornado. I live right off of Tinkham Road and it came right down Tinkham Road,” said Sandra Sanders of Wilbraham Road.

SKYWARN is a volunteer program with nearly 290,000 trained severe weather spotters. These spotters help keep their local communities safe by providing timely and accurate reports of severe weather to the National Weather Service. Storm spotters play a very important role because they can see things that the radar and other technology cannot. 

“There are a lot of things that can be very helpful for ground reports that we need at any time of year and getting someone who’s gone through a little mini course for 2 or 3 hours or so to get a little scientific background can really help get more credible information when we really need more reports from the ground,” said Storm Team Meteorologist Nick Bannin.

Rainfall amounts, hail size and storm damage are all important in forecasting and warning people of severe weather. Forecasters from the National Weather Service conduct the training session and after completing the training, spotters will receive an official SKYWARN spotter ID.

130 people attended Wednesday night SKYWARN Spotter training session at the 22News Broadcast Center in Chicopee.

According to Hayden Frank from the National Weather Service, “We may see rotation, perhaps a tornado, but the only way to confirm it is ground truth and that’s a spotter; someone that’s been trained to recognize the structure in clouds.”

Kelly Sitek of Belchertown said, “I think it’s really important, especially now. Living in the Springfield area, going through the tornado. It’s really important, because we always thought that it would never happen here, and it did.”

If you missed Wednesday’s SKYWARN session, you can attend one on May 11th in Heath, and May 16th in Huntington.

Click here for more information on how to prepare for severe weather.

More Information:
Local Forecast Severe WX Text Alerts
Temperatures Severe WX Email Alerts
Weather News Live Area Webcams
Interactive Radar Winter Safety Checklist