An inside look at storm spotters

A tornado in Monroe

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Wednesday night we received over 30 reports of tornadoes from trained storm spotters.  These are men and women who have attended a training hosted by the National Weather Service; that is all the education you need to be a storm spotter.  They are trained to spot different cloud types and how to recognize the difference between a funnel cloud and a tornado. In the last 3 years, nearly 200 people have attended these trainings across northern Indiana.

Jay Farlow, a member of the Board of Directors of IMO Skywarn, shed some light on how tornado reporting happens.  He says a spotter will report their location, that they see a tornado, in what direction and how far away they think that tornado is.  There is obviously no exact way to measure the direction or distance when reporting it, so a lot of it can be guess work.  That’s why it sometimes takes our crews or crews from the National Weather Service some time to locate where the tornado actually touched down.

The meteorologists at the National Weather Service can see rotation on radar, but they can’t see if that rotation is up in the cloud or down on the ground.  They need storm spotters to let them know when that rotation is on the ground.  That can also assist the National Weather Service with issuing tornado warnings.

Below is our full interview with Jay Farlow.  He organizes spotters all across northeast Indiana and explains what his role is on a severe weather day, the training spotters receive, and sheds some light on Wednesday night’s event.

Click here for more information about storm spotter training.

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