INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (April 1, 2014)— Nov. 17, 2013 marked the day Indiana saw one of the worst tornado outbreaks in history, with 30 twisters that wiped out neighborhoods and left many Hoosiers homeless.
It’s an indication that severe weather can hit at any time, so the National Weather Service (NWS) is working hard to educate people about weather conditions.
The NWS is building a team of severe weather spotters, Skywarn Spotters, who are trained to learn what to look out for during a big event in their neck of the woods.
“We’re kind of weather enthusiasts,” said Tammy Honeycutt, a Skywarn Spotter.
Whether it’s deciphering cloud formations, tracking wind speeds, lightning and hail, the spotters report information by phone or social media to the NWS or City-County officials, who will then make the appropriate calls.
“Doppler radar and the tools we use give us really good information on what is going on, and what looks to be going on in a certain area…but nothing beats getting verification of that report,” said Mike Ryan, NWS meteorologist.
Ryan said they train about 1,000 spotters a year.
Honeycutt and her son attended one of the training sessions held Tuesday night for a second time.
“We spend a lot of time outside with baseball during the summer, and because of that, we want to know what we’re looking at,” said Honeycutt.
What they’re looking at could be more valuable than a weather model—it’s a public service to protect lives and their community.
“They really are the eyes and ears for us,” said Ryan. “I make it a point that we can’t do that job to the best of our ability without their efforts.”
Anyone can be a spotter. You just have to go through one of the 2-hour training sessions. The National Weather Service will be holding 10 more spotter training sessions across the state. Click here for more information.