SN 2020 Spotter Network Newsletter

John Wetter

SN President
Staff member
Dec 11, 2005
Maple Grove, MN
The 2020 Spotter Network Newsletter is out as of April 8th!

Read it online now!

This is what is new for 2020 (read the full newsletter for all reminders):
For 2020, we’ve made a few changes to the network to help continue to improve the already high quality data. These changes to reporting are effective immediately.
  • The report type of ‘other’ has been removed. To better reflect the kinds of reports SN and the NWS are looking for, we’ve listed all report types explicitly and therefore an ‘other’ category is no longer necessary.
  • Non-rotating wall clouds have been removed as a report type. As we learn more about severe storms, and following the guidance of many NWS offices, we are removing non-rotating wall clouds as a reportable condition. Only rotating wall clouds should be reported and we’d encourage you to only report ‘obviously’ rotating wall clouds that look to present an imminent threat.
  • All Wind reports must now be measured winds. All estimated winds should be reported as damage. (Make sure to describe how the winds were measured!)
  • Damage has been added as a category. Please report any damage under this category, not under wind or tornado. Use quantifiable information in your reporting. Eg. Say: “Approximately 5-inch diameter branches down” not ‘large’ or 'whole' branches.
  • What makes a good report? Check out this article on making a quality report.
Feedback for reports. We’ve always given feedback for reports. Did you know that the advisory board for Spotter Network reviews nearly every report made? In 2019, about 16,000 report reviews were made. To further enhance the feedback you get as a spotter:
  • You will receive a weekly summary of reports you make along with the feedback for your reports at 2AM on Monday. This will help you to improve your reports going forward.
  • If you make a report that receives three ‘very bad’ grades, you will receive an email with the reviews so you can correct any future reports.
  • Want a perfect report? Be sure to include additional information about your report that provides context. Examples: “Hail up to 1.5 inches in diameter but most hail was around one inch in diameter.” or “Fast moving water over the curbs.”
In addition to the reporting changes, we’ve also made a few other changes to our services.
  • All “leader boards” have been removed. Providing life-saving information to the NWS and the public isn’t a contest.
  • The map on our website will now more accurately report active spotters in the field. We still think the best way to follow along is via an application that shows spotters over radar data. A couple of these titles are GRLevelx, RadarScope, and Radar Alive.
  • All pages on our web site are now secured via standard HTTPS security. This is now required. In the past it was optional, not any more!
  • With increased security, we are deprecating our old API and non-secure data transport methods. These API's will be completely discontinued on November 31, 2020. We know of two apps still using these deprecated API's, Chaser Location, and Radar Alive! and have been in contact with both developers. Please look to their product pages for information about required updates to support our new secure location and report submission requirements this fall.