TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Have you ever wanted to learn how to identify storms and help relay vital details to official meteorologists during inclement weather? Well the National Weather Service SKYWARN Spotter network might be for you!

The Tampa Bay NWS office is hosting a free ~ one-hour training to become a certified storm spotter for our area.

Storm spotters are vital to the meteorologists issuing warnings for severe storms, tornadoes, flooding, etc. A certified spotter is also very important to provide damage reports and ground truth for ongoing events, like a developing tornado or a hail-producing storm.

A storm spotter is typically someone who feels the need to provide a public service to their community. According to the NWS, “volunteers include police and fire personnel, dispatchers, EMS workers, public utility workers, and other concerned private citizens. Individuals affiliated with hospitals, schools, churches, and nursing homes or who have a responsibility for protecting others are encouraged to become a spotter.”

During the class, you’ll learn a variety of basic weather information like the development and structure of a thunderstorm. There will also be information on identifying potential severe weather features and severe weather safety.

The most important part of the program is reporting the information to the National Weather Service officials, so you will also learn what specific information to report and how to get that to the right people.

The class is offered several different ways thorughout the year but the first webinar of the year is tonight, January 24th, at 7 p.m. You can register for Tuesday night’s event here.

Anyone can sign up to take the course, but you do have to be at least 18 years old to be certified and receive and official spotter ID.

To learn even more about becoming an official SKYWARN storm spotter (what it entails, other classes to take, and how to get involved), head on over to the NWS Tampa Bay website here.