With all the snow and cold we’ve had lately, it may seem like the spring and summer season is no where in sight, but the National Weather Service in Des Moines and local emergency management coordinators want to get a jump start on it by offering storm spotter training.

In Story County, a class is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 21, at the Story City Fire Station, 512 Park Ave., in Story City. Classes usually last one hour to 90 minutes. They are open and free to the public.

“The more people we have here in Story County that are trained as storm spotters, the more likely we are to be able to provide the National Weather Service information on weather at ground level,” said Story County Emergency Management Coordinator Keith Morgan.

Morgan said storm spotters provide information on “what is happening in the gap between what NWS (National Weather Service) personnel can see from their radar and the surface. This is especially important the further you get away from the radar itself.”

Storm spotter reports, according to Morgan, can help verify what forecasters think is going on with a storm.

“The more people we have trained, the higher the likelihood we’ll have someone where significant weather is occurring,” he said.

Story County Emergency Management monitors severe weather, and when conditions are such that there might be a need to activate the outdoor warning sirens, due to a tornado, winds greater than 70 miles per hour or hail greater than golf ball size, emergency management officials may ask the rural fire departments to deploy as storm spotters to give them real-time feedback on what is occurring.

Citizens who become trained would work with these departments in these types of situations.

“Through their (storm spotters’) inputs across public safety radios, emergency management may recommend to the Story County Sheriff’s dispatch (center) to activate outdoor warning sirens in communities in the path of severe weather.

This is one more layer of protection beyond the National Weather Service that we have for Story County residents,” Morgan said.

For those who are interested, but want more information, Morgan can be contacted at the Story County Emergency Management office, 515-382-7315 or by email: kmorgan@storycountyiowa.gov.