TV Spotters

Jason Mills

I'm down here in central Alabama and was wondering if any other TV weather dept. have spotter programs like we do down here??? I am not a trained SKYWARN spotter but am trained by the meterologists down here and have intensively studied weather for a few years. I think that still is considered trained??? Just curious. Thanks.

P.S. Will get SKYWARN trained this fall.
 
Mar 14, 2010
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Siloam Springs, Arkansas
Well I try to help out by spotting for my local station but its hard to even get gas money out of them. The chief meterologist is suppose to help the newbies with forecasting soon, but its entirely on him. I came recommended by another chaser, so that's how I got on. My point being our area stations are too cheap go really help out in anything weather related. I'm not complaining, well I am but to answer your question that is why we don't have a training program per say. I Chase for the meteorologist because he's an Awsome guy, not for the station. And it gets the word out. You don't have to pass the spotternets test, but its a great refresher once in awhile.
 

Jason Mills

Well I try to help out by spotting for my local station but its hard to even get gas money out of them. The chief meterologist is suppose to help the newbies with forecasting soon, but its entirely on him. I came recommended by another chaser, so that's how I got on. My point being our area stations are too cheap go really help out in anything weather related. I'm not complaining, well I am but to answer your question that is why we don't have a training program per say. I Chase for the meteorologist because he's an Awsome guy, not for the station. And it gets the word out. You don't have to pass the spotternets test, but its a great refresher once in awhile.
My station has a great program called Skywatchers and they teach you to the standards or above Skywarn and the program has about 500-700 members. I live in a rural area and I'm the only trained spotter I know of except my local voluntary fire dept. and right after my little community is a large metro of a 3-4 small cities with a population of about 25,000 each. And on April 27th there were a few spotters who constantly followed the supercells and gave live video and defiantly saved lives. And spotting/chasing is A LOT more dangerous down here because we have hills and trees.(Arkansas has some of those I guess) But thanks for answering.
 

Jeff Duda

Resident meteorological expert
Staff member
Oct 7, 2008
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www.meteor.iastate.edu
I don't believe you have to be SKYWARN trained to be a "trained spotter". Certainly, certain spotting networks will officially recognize you only if you take a test that is their judgement of what it means to be trained. But you can be just as well trained as an NWS met or SKYWARN spotter even if you have not taken their specific training exercises. For example, I learned how to spot three ways: 1) taking college meteorology courses for my meteorology degree, 2) watching storm videos and reading websites of other spotters (some, like Mike Hollinghshead, are really good at pointing out important features to help you learn parts of storms and how to recognize what is going on), and 3) by chasing with experienced people and having them show you the ropes while chasing. When it came to taking the SpotterNetwork test to be an official SN spotter, I didn't spend any time going through the training module and only missed one question on the test.
 

Joey Ketcham

None of the local stations really have a "program" of any sort, but for the most part if you are a chaser they will use you. Back when I started out in the mid 90's I got to become friends with the meteorologist at the NBC station in Joplin, MO and chased for them quite a bit. Then in 1999 I started working as a news photographer at a local CBS station and they had a great in-house chaser team that was pretty solid. After I came onboard I became part of the chase team, there were 4 of us so we had two teams of chasers that they would send out if needed. There was no formal training done in-house by the meteorologist, but we were required to attend the Skywarn training classes. It was a lot of fun, and got paid to chase. Heck, even though it was out of our DMA we would go as far west as Wichita and even down to the Tulsa area to chase anything heading our way.
 

Jeff Robbins

Lol. Oh yeah. We have trees. You will here this area referred to as the "jungle".
i love chasing the jungle, less chance of a chaser convergence. and it's around my home in Northeast Oklahoma... had a field day on 5/22..:cool:
 

Jason Mills

None of the local stations really have a "program" of any sort, but for the most part if you are a chaser they will use you. Back when I started out in the mid 90's I got to become friends with the meteorologist at the NBC station in Joplin, MO and chased for them quite a bit. Then in 1999 I started working as a news photographer at a local CBS station and they had a great in-house chaser team that was pretty solid. After I came onboard I became part of the chase team, there were 4 of us so we had two teams of chasers that they would send out if needed. There was no formal training done in-house by the meteorologist, but we were required to attend the Skywarn training classes. It was a lot of fun, and got paid to chase. Heck, even though it was out of our DMA we would go as far west as Wichita and even down to the Tulsa area to chase anything heading our way.
We dont get paid but we do get heavily recognized on T.V. esp. during severe weather, and we do have a great training program like I said. But I dont care if we dont get paid, I am obsessed with weather and am a future Ph.D meterologist. All the Met. here at our station(well everyone for that matter) are awesome people and Dr. Tim Coleman will sometimes post on there blog and I love to learn from him.
 
Mar 23, 2009
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Ypsilanti, MI
The Spotter Network has very useful training, too. I'm of the "better educated means better spotter" (most likely) school of thought, so I say get as much information as you can into your mind.
 

rdale

EF5
Mar 1, 2004
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skywatch.org
Remember, to be part of Skywarn you must have attended a NWS spotter class within the past two years.
Talk about digging up an old thread ;) And that is not correct. It might be a rule some areas have set, but not at all a requirement. And probably a bad one, many chasers haven't been to a NWS class in years and they still know what they are doing.

Plus the NWS in Central Region is no longer doing spotter classes in the field, so that would really hurt the renewal chances.
 
Feb 11, 2007
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Apr 10, 2008
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Actually, this isn't completely true, a quick survey of several Central Region FO homepages showed that they are still doing spotter classes in the field. Here's the MKX training schedule for instance: http://www.crh.noaa.gov/news/display_cmsstory.php?wfo=mkx&storyid=78509&source=0
If you notice MidWestSSTRC is involved with those and yes, KMKX has greatly reduced the number of "in person" spotter training classes.
Some are now in person, some are via webinar and the others are put on by approved spotters groups like MidWest SSTRC and MASA here in Southern WI. All were "in person" before 2012.

I was wondering if any other WFO's were doing this.

Makes a ton of work for the spotter groups.

As for the requirement we also look at other qualifications as well, but we do have to follow the training every two years here. I think it is a good rule and should not be hard for a chaser to do. It helps get folks on the same page. I see this no different then the Spotter Network requiring their training before being able to submit a report on their system.

Tim
 
Feb 9, 2007
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I think our local TV news channels mainly rely on Skywarn spotters who call in and report after making their NWS/EMA reports. I know when you get into the cities, there are actual paid storm tracker employees but I would assume you would have to have a meteorology degree.
 

john moran

I'm in a city (Houston), NWS trained and have been a spotter for KTRK tv for years. Not paid, no formal B.S. degree in meteorology but a serious hobbyist for just shy of 30 years.
 
Feb 27, 2009
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Texarkana, AR
I'd recommend anyone with an interest in severe weather attend a skywarn class, if for nothing else just to see what it's like. I had always put off going to one thinking it would be the basics and boring. I went to both the regular and advanced class the same night a few weeks ago, and while I didn't learn much I didn't already know, it was interesting. The presenter had taken the time to put together a lot of local events and video that really held my attention.