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National Weather Service looking for volunteer storm spotters

The National Weather Supervision says anyone can sign up for weather spotting, and are recruiting people as young as 10 years old.

MOLINE, Ill. — The National Weather Service in the Quad Cities is looking for help in spotting the next big storm.

They're called "SKYWARN Storm Spotters", and SKYWARN is a volunteer organization with between 350,000 and 400,000 severe weather spotters. Spotters help provide real-time reports to the National Weather Service on what's happening on the ground."

"It doesn't matter how much our technology advances, we're always going to need that human element," Warning Coordination Meteorologist Rich Kinney said. "Real time reports are absolutely critical for the warning process, and helping protect life and property."

The storm spotter trainings, held in March in April every year, teach people how to notice and report certain weather events. Kinney said most spotters would observe from their home or work, and send in reports from there. 

"Then we turn more to some of the basic terminology and building blocks with storm features, then we go to more thunderstorms in depth," Kinney said. "Talking about the four main types of thunderstorms, including the one with the highest severe weather threat to supercell thunderstorm."

Officials encourages young kids to get involved in weather spotting, to hopefully turn it in to a lifelong interest.

"Young kids, who are really interested in the weather, they can sort of participate, you know, with their parents or guardians in this program," Kinney said.

You can find more information on becoming a volunteer weather spotter by clicking/tapping here, and clicking on the "become a spotter" tab. There's also a full schedule of trainings in the link above.

News 8's Charles Hart also spoke with Brian Williamsen who is a spokesperson for the American Red Cross in the Quad Cities, and he said storm preparedness is important, because disaster can strike at any time.

"The more that you can educate yourself, the more that you can be prepared to be ready," Williamsen said. 

"When you are prepared with things such as that emergency kit, making sure you do stay alert to weather situations in the area following what's going on there with the weather alerts that are out there, all the preparedness all the information you can arm yourself with beforehand can only help you out," Williamsen said.

The American Red Cross here in the Quad Cities has volunteers on stand by 24/7 to provide immediate help to those effected by disaster.

"It is a real privilege to be able to help people who have been impacted by disasters," Williamsen said. "Whether it is that home fire, or maybe a tornado came through or a hurricane. These are individuals and families who likely have gone through what could have been their worst day."

The American Red Cross has a free emergency app, that educates people on disaster preparation. You can download the app by clicking/tapping here.

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