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How you can become a National Weather Service storm spotter online

The National Weather Service in Des Moines will host free virtual storm spotter training courses during the coronavirus pandemic.

JOHNSTON, Iowa — Are you a weather fanatic? Do you enjoy keeping an eye on the sky, especially when it becomes stormy? 

Perhaps becoming a volunteer storm spotter is a good fit for you! 

Storm spotters are everyday people across Iowa who help identify different weather conditions for meteorologists at the National Weather Service.

Although doppler radar is a great resource and tool for meteorologists, it doesn't quite add up to the power of eyes in the field.

Spotters who volunteer around central Iowa can help relay reports to the National Weather Service about tornadoes, funnel clouds, wall clouds, hail, damaging winds, and flooding.

Storm spotters are used in the winter, too.

They can relay snow and ice accumulation information to the National Weather Service meteorologists. 

The National Weather Service says each report must include the time & location of the event (and direction looking if applicable)

The National Weather Service (NWS) and local county emergency managers host spotter training classes across Iowa every spring. These in-person spotter training classes are offered primarily in larger cities and towns, but also in several rural counties and smaller towns.

If you're interested in becoming a National Weather Service storm spotter, the Des Moines office will be holding virtual training sessions throughout the month of April.

Although these training sessions are typically conducted in face-to-face settings, they will be completed online during the COVID-19 pandemic.

You'll need to register for the storm spotter training sessions online. Visit the National Weather Service site to learn more about registration.

Finally, it is useful to know that the National Weather Service in Des Moines covers a good portion of northern, southern, and central Iowa. 

However, if you live in far western Iowa, you might be covered by the National Weather Service in Omaha or in Sioux Falls, S.D.

For those in eastern Iowa, be sure to check out the National Weather Service in La Crosse, Wisc. or in the Quad Cities

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