Skywarn Severe Storm Spotter Training Begins

Help the National Weather Service Identify Severe Storms

DULUTH, Minn. — We’ve had our fair share of rainy days so far this Spring but the severe storm season hasn’t quite hit the Northland yet. In this weeks Great Outdoors we are taking you to a severe storm spotter class offered here in the Northland. Learning about the sky above, can help keep you and others safe when the weather turns dark.

“There was a rowing event down by the Bay and I’m kind of looking at my weather radar because I can see some clouds that looked suspicious.” explained Dave Miller a Skywarn Responder.

Dark clouds in the summer heat can look quite scary but how do you know which clouds are ones you should be worried about?

“As I look on the weather radar I can see a bow arch to it, which usually means it will be pushing a lot of wind.” said Miller.

Miller learned exactly what he needed at the Annual Skywarn Training session held locally by the Duluth National Weather Service.

“This class takes people that look up and see a cloud and go ‘oh man that’s a nasty ugly looking cloud and it teaches them a little bit more about the clouds and how to look at a cloud for the potential for rotation or tornadic activity to be involved with it.”

It’s called ground truth. “The purpose is to help people understand what they see in the sky and help to identify storms that are approaching and rely that information to the NWS to give them a more accurate idea of what is going on that very moment.” said Keith Kesler the Director of Emergency Management.

Having trained people spread out throughout the Northland really helps relay hazardous information directly to the NWS, to the TV stations and back to everyone at home. It’s simply a game of time and education and the more people with knowledge and helping spread the word, can increase lead time for an approaching dangerous storm.

“If a big storm comes through where there is a lot of damage in an area there are times that people may be on their own for up to 72 hours.” explained Kesler.

Lead time and ground truth is so important because storms can explode quickly and the radar scan is only updated every five minutes, which is quite delayed in real-time weather events.

“The National Weather Service does a really good job at reaching out and teaching people. And unlike other agencies they make it possible for people to learn and know what is going on. It’s a really worthwhile thing that they do.” said Miller.

If you want to take the class, it is FREE and offered throughout the Spring at different locations across the Northland.

After completion of this class, you will be a certified Skywarn Storm Spotter.


 Tuesday, April 23 –  Skywarn- Washburn, WI – 1:00pm – 3:00pm
Where: Bayfield County Courthouse Annex 117 E 5th St, Washburn, WI 54891
Wednesday, April 24,  Skywarn- Park Falls, WI – 1:00pm – 3:00pm
Where: City Hall 400 Fourth Ave S, Park Falls, WI
Wednesday, April 24,  Skywarn- Phillips, WI – 5:00pm – 7:00pm
Where: UW-Extension 104 S Eyder Ave, Phillips, WI 54555
Description: Conference Rooms A and B
Thursday, April 25,  Skywarn- Hurley, WI – 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Where: Kimball Community Center, 5708 Center Dr, Hurley, WI 54534, USA
Saturday, April 27,  Skywarn- Grand Marais – 8am – 10am
Where: Cook County Community Center 317 5th St, Grand Marais, MN 55604, USA
Monday, April 29,  Skywarn- Washburn, WI – 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Where: Bayfield County Courthouse Annex 117 E 5th St, Washburn, WI 54891
Tuesday, May 14, Skywarn- Duluth – 7pm – 9pm
Where: Duluth House Of Refuge, 115 W Myrtle St, Duluth, MN 55811, USA
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