Battle Creek and Kalamazoo area residents have an opportunity to become volunteer storm spotters. A new series of virtual training and orientation events are coming up beginning next week. The National Weather Service has around 400,000 storm spotters volunteering their time and expertise nationwide to help keep us safe.  Their early warning, real-time, eyes-on sightings of dangerous storms help save lives every year. There is always a need for new people to volunteer to become a part of the important Skywarn® program. Tornadoes and dangerous storms are nothing new to Battle Creek and Kalamazoo.  The May 1980 tornado that ripped up Kalamazoo almost always gets a mention when talking about the area's severe weather. The April 1977 tornado that tore up a wide swath from just east of Kalamazoo to Augusta also comes to mind.

Image: Skywarn (R)

Skywarn ® volunteers help weather service forecasters get a more complete picture of what is happening during stormy weather. Radar can tell a lot. But live spotters who know what they're looking at bring the total view into focus and help get important local and regional weather advisories and warnings sent out as early as possible. You can learn more about the Southwest Michigan Regional program here.

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The upcoming virtual training sessions are offered at no cost. They will present identical information so you only need to sign up for one. And that makes more space available for everyone who wants to become a spotter.

The Skywarn® web site lists the primary areas covered in the presentation as:
-Basics of thunderstorm development
-Fundamentals of storm structure
-Identifying potential severe weather features
-Information to report
-How to report information
-Basic severe weather safety

Skywarn® and the Skywarn® logo are registered trademarks of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, used with permission.”

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