Skywarn Spotter Training April 17 at Jackson Fire Hall

Tuesday, February 13, 2018 | By Steve Briggs l |

Burnett County Emergency Management and the National Weather Service Duluth Office will present Skywarn Spotter Training at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 17 at Jackson Fire Hall, located at 4559 County Road A east of Webster. The training is free and open to the public. The training at Jackson is the only Skywarn Spotter training in Burnett County in 2018.

CORRECTION: previously reported a second Skywarn spotter class at Grantsburg Fire Hall, but that was incorrect. The Grantsburg training class was held last spring. Each county is allowed to conduct only one course per year. BurnettWire regrets the error.

Moving the class around the county

Burnett County Emergency Management Director Jim Tolbert said, 'Our plan is to move the Skywarn Spotter training around Burnett County to make the training available to more people. Last year, we had about 40 at the Grantsburg training. We're hoping for a good turnout at Jackson Fire Hall this April 17. Next spring it will be in Danbury. We hope to make it convenient for people all around the county to get trained."

Assisting the National Weather Service

The National Weather Service's Skywarn® program provides free two-hour training to volunteers in the community who help identify and report severe weather including large hail, damaging winds, and tornadoes

Since the program began in the 1970s, the information provided by Skywarn® spotters has helped the National Weather Service issue timely and accurate warnings to protect lives and property. There can be no finer reward than to know that their efforts have given communities the precious gift of time, the seconds and minutes which can help save lives.

Each spring, National Weather Service offices across the country train volunteers within their area of responsibility. The Duluth office is responsible for training across northeastern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin. Neighboring offices in Grand Forks, Minneapolis, La Crosse, Green Bay, and Marquette offer training for their service areas.

"NWS provides the training classes free of charge to the counties to increase the awareness of the population to beauty and danger of the weather around them, but also to increase the number people active, accuracy of the reports, and dependability of the information that the forecaster use as the 'Ground Truth' — what is really happening on the ground — to improve their forecasts and warnings," Tolbert said.

"Citizen participation in Skywarn is another example of how Burnett County can be more resilient in preparing for and protecting ourselves from the effects of the weather in this part of the country."

We encourage anyone with an interest in weather to attend a Skywarn® class in your community to become an official and trained weather spotter. No registration is required, just show up. Anyone who spends time outdoors, whether working, camping, fishing, golfing, or hiking will also benefit from a Skywarn® class. Public safety personnel are also encouraged to attend Skywarn® training.

Skywarn® training covers the following topics:

  • The mission of the National Weather Service and how Skywarn® spotters play an important role in the warning process.
  • Thunderstorm formation and the types of thunderstorms. We'll study the meteorological dynamics involved in thunderstorm production and what it takes for a storm to produce damaging winds, large hail, and tornadoes.
  • Visual indicators spotters can look for to identify possible severe weather. This includes types of clouds associated with specific areas of a thunderstorm, how to identify rotation and discriminate between strong and weak rotation, and discriminating between tornadoes and look-a-likes.

Current Skywarn® spotters are asked to attend training at least every four years in order to refresh their training.

In addition to the classroom-based Skywarn® training sessions, online training is available through the COMET MetEd website (registration is required). The online training is a great supplement and annual refresher but is not intended to replace a classroom session.

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