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Storm spotting, how your reports help the National Weather Service

ATLANTA, Mich. — As spring just began this week, the National Weather Service is hosting storm spotter training classes all throughout Northern Michigan. Meteorologist Kevin Farina explains why it’s necessary to know what severe storms look like, and why your reports are useful to the federal weather forecasting agency.

“The radar is looking at storms in the lower part of the atmosphere, but we can’t see what’s going on at the ground,” Farina says. National Weather Service meteorologists rely on storm spotter reports from locals, so scientists can confirm what they see on computer screens with ‘ground truth.’

Montmorency County residents learned how to identify severe storms and the signs of dangerous weather. Mike Nichols attended the training and learned “to recognize what a wall cloud looks like, and that’s a precursor to tornadoes and severe weather.”

Second-time participant Dillan Brancheau shares how his reports help the meteorologists that issue severe weather warnings. Storm reports “give them reassurance what they think is happening, and help them know what is going on out in the field.”

Upcoming storm spotter sessions will be held in Harrisville and West Branch in April. The sessions are free and open to the public, without need to register in advance.

-Harrisville: April 18, 6:30 p.m. at the Alcona County EMS, 2600 M-72.
-West Branch: April 24, 6 p.m. at the Ogemaw County EOC, 205 S 8th St.