The northern Indiana office of the National Weather Service (IWX) will resume SKYWARN® storm spotter training this fall, but only via the internet. The office plans to teach its class via the GoToWebinar service, which supports Windows, Mac, Linux and Chrome computers, as well as iOS and Android mobile devices. As is always the case with NWS SKYWARN classes, there will be no cost to attend.
IWX plans to offer the class six times this fall:
- Wednesday, October 14, noon – 2 p.m.
- Thursday, October 15, 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.
- Wednesday, October 21, noon – 2 p.m.
- Thursday, October 22, 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.
- Wednesday, October 28, noon – 2 p.m.
- Thursday, October 29, 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Each class is identical, so there’s no reason to attend more than one. Each session can accommodate up to 150 attendees. Pre-registration is therefore necessary, and classes will automatically close when they fill. To register, visit the following web page: https://www.weather.gov/iwx/Spotter_Event_List.
Each attendee should register individually. IWX recommends against viewing the webinar in groups, because the office needs to update its storm spotter database through the online registrations.
Throughout each class, IWX will ask each attendee to respond to interactive poll questions, which is another reason each person needs to register and log in individually.
People who complete the class will receive a certificate of completion via email, using the email address in each person’s registration. IWX does not issue spotter ID cards, or ID numbers. Contrary to popular belief, IWX does not certify storm spotters. Certification implies an expiration date and a system of removal for misconduct, none of which applies to IWX spotter training.
Even though there’s no certification to expire and even though I’ve attended a spotter class countless times over several decades, I usually attend at least one class every year. I find that doing so refreshes my memory of what to look for and what reports IWX needs, so it can better issue storm warnings. I recommend the same for any reader who is interested in participating in a SKYWARN net. Autumn severe weather is possible in our area! Just one case in point is the November, 2002 tornado that struck Van Wert, Ohio, doing damage rated at F4 on the Fujitsu scale.
The class is worthwhile for anyone who has even a passing interest in severe weather, because it teaches how storms form and how to know the difference between scary-looking but benign conditions and those that are true threats.