If you have a fascination with severe weather and meteorology, this may be for you! With spring storm season upon us, the National Weather Service out of Grand Rapids is in need of volunteers to spot and report severe weather throughout West Michigan.

The Weather Service says, "spotter training classes are conducted around lower Michigan from late February through April each year" and the dates for West Michigan's courses are fast approaching!

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Power in Numbers

Each year the National Weather Service (NWS) offers free training courses to area residents to help assist with severe weather spotting and reporting throughout the spring storm season. As you can imagine, recording data about weather conditions is very important and helps authorities track and predict weather cycles. Because NWS officials cannot be in multiple places at the same time, each year they ask for volunteers across the state to assist in the data gathering process.

Weather Training Courses

Anyone can be a severe weather spotter with the NWS provided you are able to report using their specified criteria, that's why the NWS offers a free training course to help you better understand the data recording process. As part of the free training you will learn:

  • How to safely spot and report during various severe weather conditions
  • The criteria for reporting
  • The seven required pieces of information needed to make a spotter report

I am a self-described weather nerd and I have taken this course in the past when I lived in "tornado alley" in central Nebraska. Speaking from experience, this training course is highly informative and it has helped me become more severe weather-aware, especially when it comes to knowing how to read the radar and knowing when it's time to seek immediate shelter!

Due to Covid, the free weather spotter training has moved to virtual courses. They are free to attend but reservations are required. The one-hour training sessions are available to Kalamazoo residents today, March 29 and for Lansing/Jackson area residents on March 30. However, training is not county/community specific so you can attend either session and be presented with the same information and materials. Both sessions begin at 7:00 p.m. and you can register here.

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