Weather spotters are needed in rural communities for Spokane’s National Weather Service

Weather spotters are needed in rural communities for Spokane’s National Weather Service »Play Video
You can fill the gap for rural area weather spotters with minimal training.
MOSCOW, ID - We rely on the National Weather Service to tell us when to expect storms, freezing temperatures and other severe weather conditions.

But did you know that when a storm hits, the weather service relies on trained members of the community to tell them exactly what's happening in their neighborhood? Reporter Rachel Dubrovin explains what it takes to be a "weather spotter."

It may be difficult to think about severe weather on a day like today. After all, temperatures are in the sixties and there isn't a cloud in the sky. However, here on the Palouse, weather can change... like that.

"There's a lot of risk in this local area," said National Weather Service Warning Coordination Meteorologist Andy Brown.

Brown trains "weather spotters" in eastern Washington and northern Idaho.

"Weather spotter, it's the eyes and ears of the National Weather Service," said Brown. "They help us out, they provide us information during significant hazardous weather."

Brown held a training session in Moscow Monday night.

"There's a lot of holes in our observation network," said Brown.

He explained the weather service has access to very advanced technology, but sometimes eyewitnesses are the biggest help in severe weather situations.

"We don't know what's going on all of the places, all of the time, so we need people out in the field that can relay that information to us," said Brown.

"Who, what and where?" said Brown. " What's happening? Where are you? What do you see? Are you sure? Are you observing it? Did you hear a second-hand report? As much information as you can provide us."

It takes a couple hours to go through the weather spotter training…

"Like apple pie on the Fourth of July… Tornadoes are typically American," said a video voice-over.

But Brown said reporting severe conditions as a trained weather spotter takes less than a couple minutes.

"Big message here is to stay safe and provide the information to us so we can fulfill our mission, which is saving lives and property," said Brown.

And... it's a great way to help out your community.

"It's quite simple," said Weather Spotter, Bill Ward. "They, being the National Weather Service make it as easy as they possibly can. Plus it's a lot of fun."

There are about a thousand weather spotters who report to the forecast office out of Spokane, but they're concentrated in the more populated areas, so they're always looking for more spotters in rural communities.

IF you're interested in attending a training session, check the US National Weather Service of Spokane’s webpage for a schedule.