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NWS Storm Spotter Certification Class

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Justin Hobson
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Wikimedia Commons

Even with today’s technology, the National Weather Service still depends on certified storm spotters across the nation to serve as eyes on the ground.

Usually what you learn are some of the basics such as recognizing the different cloud types...

Doppler radar can only do so much. It’s able to detect if conditions are right to spawn tornados, but it can’t tell when one forms or its location. That’s where storm spotters become invaluable.

Amy Seeley with the National Weather Service says storm spotters provide critical information concerning when hazardous weather threatens. But to be of value, Seeley says storm spotters need to complete a certification class.

“Usually what you learn are some of the basics such as recognizing the different cloud types, knowing what you are looking at when you look at the storm, are you seeing updrafts into it or down drafts, knowing how to identify the different sizes of hail and also how to correctly report that information to us," Seeley says.

The certification lasts two years.  The next free training class is scheduled for Tuesday from 6 to 8 p.m. at the McDonough County 4-H center

There were 54 twisters recorded in Illinois in 2013. They're blamed for the deaths of 8 people, nearly 200 injuries and damaging more than 2,000 homes.

Emily Boyer is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.