Storm spotter training readies locals for severe weather season - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Storm spotter training readies locals for severe weather season

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While many people were out enjoying Tuesday's nice weather, others were inside training for darker days.

It was standing room only as many turned out to be the eyes of the storm for Jones County. Over 100 people came to partake in a storm spotter training session put on by the National Weather Service Quad Cities. In a two-hour session, they learned skills like how to track developing storms, how storms can variate, and how to be outside in the elements safely.

"Everybody, of course, can look at the clouds, but it takes a trained set of eyes to determine a severe weather threat, as to what is, just a scary cloud or what actually might be a developing tornado," Andy Ervin, National Weather Service Senior Meteorologist, said.

Ervin said there's only so much a radar can see.  The rest is up to the eyes on the ground. When severe storms strike, storm spotters in those areas are expected to mobilize and feed back information to the NWS to help warn the general public. Many of those spotters are also area firefighters.

"The goal of the fire department is to protect lives and property, and to be able to see what's going on before it happens, and help guide people," Daniel Graham-Frank, a Anamosa firefighter, said.

The Jones County Emergency Management said having spotters is what helped them when they saw weather at its worst in 2017. An EF-1 tornado went through parts of Anamosa on the eve of Easter.

"Oh, immense. If we didn't have them out telling us what's coming our way, there's no way we could let people know, or know whether to sound sirens," Brenda Leonard, Jones County Emergency Management coordinator, said.

Not everyone who attends the session has to become a storm spotter. The NWS encourages all people to take part in the trainings, as does Leonard. She said, by knowing what to look for, it can help people be less afraid during storms.

It's free to become a storm spotter and to attend the training sessions. A schedule of upcoming sessions can be found here.

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