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The National Weather Service hosts free storm spotter training courses

ROCKFORD (WREX) — With spring severe weather season approaching, the National Weather Service is out training volunteers to help them out when severe weather strikes. Free storm spotter training sessions are underway and come to the Stateline in the next couple of weeks.

Storm spotters are valuable during severe weather. Since the National Weather Service can't be everywhere at once, it's helpful to have individuals able to properly identify and report severe weather ongoing in their community.

The training sessions are free and open to the public. The National Weather Service recommends participants to be at least 10 years old. The training lasts around 2 hours.

During the training session, National Weather Service meteorologists train you on what to look for during a severe storm. This includes identifying clouds and storm structures that hint that severe weather may happen soon or is happening. You'll also learn how to properly measure and report hail size. Damage reports and flooding reports are very handy as well.

Storm spotters can help the National Weather Service get severe warnings out quicker and more effectively. A spotter may report hail or damaging winds to the NWS, leading to a warning being issued. Sometimes the NWS has to wait on other data like radar to issue warnings, so having eye witness reports speeds up the process.

The National Weather Service holds spotter training sessions towards the end of winter to get ahead of the spring season. Spotters are ready for the upcoming severe season, rather than trained during it.

The NWS visits the Stateline through early March. Our local offices visit Winnebago and Boone counties on Thursday, February 13th. They are in Ogle and Lee counties on February 20th, and Stephenson County on March 5th.

If you can't make the classes in person, there is a free online training course. Click on the link to take the course on your own time.

Alex Kirchner

Alex Kirchner is the Chief Meteorologist at 13 WREX. He joined the 13 Weather Authority in 2014 and brings over a decade of forecasting experience to the weather department. Alex earned Certified Broadcast Meteorologist recognition from the American Meteorological Society, and his work at WREX earned him a Best TV Weathercaster award from the Illinois Broadcasters Association and a regional Emmy.

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