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Weather Spotter Training at EAA

Nearly 100 volunteers were trained in the art of weather spotting Tuesday evening in Oshkosh.
Severe summer weather is on its way, and spotting it before it strikes can be key for emergency management.

Tonight at EAA, volunteers learned the art of weather spotting - something Brenda Konow has been trained in for 4 years.

        "You can't really hear the sirens and stuff where I live," says Konow. "So to be able to see what's out there, and make sure that I'm watching for it, and letting my friends and family know when something's coming."

Tuesday night's course taught spotters how to identify various types of cloud formations, how to measure rain and hail totals, and even how to predict tornados. Officials say doplar radar can only provide so much information - That's why spotters are necessary.

        "Doppler radar tells a meteorologist what is likely happening when we're viewing these storms," says NWA Meteorologist Jeff Last. "The storm spotter tells us exactly what's happening. They're the ground truth, reporting hail size, wind strength, and whether or not tornados are forming."

Last year Winnebago County had 137 severe weather reports. Emergency Management Director Linda Kollmann says weather spotters contributed to every single one.

        "It is so important that you have the proper training," says Kollmann. "There are a lot of clouds out there that will look like a tornado cloud that aren't tornado clouds. So usually when citizens call into the 911 center with information, we'll send a trained weather spotter out there to verify the call and the information they are sending."

Course instructors were quick to point out the difference between storm spotting and storm chasing - Two very different things that require different levels of training.

        "We don't encourage storm chasing because it can be very dangerous or even deadly," says Last.

Last estimates there are over 500 trained weather spotters in Northeast Wisconsin, individuals that he'll be counting on when summer arrives.

If you're interested in becoming a trained weather spotter, you can find details for upcoming courses at http://www.crh.noaa.gov/grb/

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