NWS announces spring SKYWARN spotter training

ALBANY — The spring dates for the SKYWARN Spotter Training Sessions have been announced by the National Weather Service.

SKYWARN is a nationwide network of volunteer weather spotters who report to and are trained by the National Weather Service. These spotters report many forms of significant or severe weather such as severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, hail, heavy snow, and flooding. The staff at the NWS Forecast Office Albany are responsible for issuing local forecasts and severe weather warnings for much of eastern New York, southern Vermont, the Berkshires of western Massachusetts and Litchfield County Connecticut. SKYWARN Spotters provide an invaluable service by providing ground truth so we can correlate what is seen on radar to what is actually occurring, help warn downstream communities, add value to our statements and warnings, and to verify forecasts and warnings. Spotters act as the NWS eyes and ears helping us provide better services.

All that is required to become a SKYWARN Spotter is to attend a free training session. The training sessions are offered during the year mainly during the spring and fall. The sessions are announced on NOAA Weather Radio and are posted on The NWS web page at www.weather.gov/aly/ and on Facebook and Twitter.

The NWS SKYWARN will be holding the following training sessions in the Capital Region:

∫ April 29: Lake George 7 to 9 p.m.

∫ May 1: Fort Edward, 7 to 9 p.m.

∫ May 7: Fultonville from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

∫ May 10: Bethlehem from 7 to 9 p.m.

∫ May 15: Cohoes from 7 to 9 p.m.

∫ May 29: Schoharie from 7 to 9 p.m.

Pre-registration is required. Additional classess or cancellations may occur. These classes are appropriate for all ages. However, ages 10 and older will likely get the most out of the training. Classes are scheduled in collaboration with local county officials.

Safety is the top priority for the SKYWARN Weather Spotter program. The NWS does not encourage its SKYWARN weather spotters to engage in storm chasing. However, the NWS does recognize that SKYWARN spotters, engaged in mobile activities, may encounter severe weather and should be alert to rapidly changing weather conditions that could impact personal safety.

Personal safety is the primary objective of every spotter. Spotters should never put themselves in harm’s way. This includes attempting to walk or drive over obstructions such as flooded roadways and downed power lines, and positioning yourself under objects that have a potential to fall or be blown over due to severe weather.

The spotter network is usually activated whenever there is a threat of severe weather, this is usually preceded by the issuance of a Severe Thunderstorm Watch, Tornado Watch, Flood Watch or some other type of watch. Spotters are asked to report any occurrence of severe weather to your Skywarn EC, Skywarn Net Controller or directly to us at the National Weather Service at www.weather.gov/aly/reportWx.

Alternative on-line training is also available.

Spotter will report any of the following below to the NWS:

∫ Tornadoes, water spouts, funnel clouds or wall clouds (rotating or non-rotating)

∫ Damaging winds — downed trees, large limbs and power lines as well as structural damage and measured wind gusts of 40-plus miles per hour

∫ Hail — any size

∫ Lightning — causing property damage and/or personal injury/death

∫ Flooding, Ice Jams, bank full or near bank full waterbodies

∫Measured snowfall — whenever a watch, warning or advisory is in effect or if you feel the information is important to us. Also storm total snowfall at the end of the event. Remember only one measurement every 6 hours.

∫ Freezing rain or freezing drizzle – all occurrences

∫ Measured rainfall — whenever a watch, warning or advisory is in effect or if you feel the information is important to us. Also storm total rainfall at the end of the event.

∫ Any other event that they feel may help the NWS determine the severity of storms