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Storm spotters: Weather service holds severe weather trainings

While there still may be snow on the ground, the National Weather Service is making sure that people are prepared for severe weather this summer with their annual SkyWarn trainings.

John Paul Martin, with the National Weather Service in Bismarck, gives a SkyWarn Spotter Training at the Dickinson Public Safety Center on Monday night. (Sydney Mook / The Dickinson Press)
John Paul Martin, with the National Weather Service in Bismarck, gives a SkyWarn Spotter Training at the Dickinson Public Safety Center on Monday night. (Sydney Mook / The Dickinson Press)

While there still may be snow on the ground, the National Weather Service is making sure that people are prepared for severe weather this summer with their annual SkyWarn trainings.

John Paul Martin, with the NWS in Bismarck, spoke to a group of around 30 people at the Dickinson Public Safety Center on Monday night about various types of severe weather and how to identify it.

The National Weather Service encourages anyone with an interest in public service to join the SkyWarn program. Training is free and typically lasts about two hours. Martin said the program started in the 1970s.

The goal of the SkyWarn trainings is for people to learn the basics of thunderstorm development and understand the fundamentals of storm structure. The program also aims to help people identify potential severe weather features and what information to report, as well as how to report it. People also learn basic severe weather safety, Martin said.

"We give you a lot of information about what are advisories, watches and warnings so that it's clear when you hear 'tornado warning, severe thunderstorm warning, severe thunderstorm watch' that you know what those things mean," he said.

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Kassidy Fields brought her daughter to the seminar to learn more about severe weather and how to spot it.

"She wants to be a meteorologist when she grows up," Fields said.

Fields said she also found the training session to be important and informative.

The program also helps train weather spotters, who may be called during a storm to describe what they see and what size hail has fallen, as well as various other things.

Martin said there are around 2,200 trained weather spotters across central and western North Dakota. The weather service has trained thousands more who are not spotters.

"We're always looking for severe weather spotters," he said. "The National Weather Service has great tools but they're only tools. We need eyes on the storm."

Martin said the weather service is always looking for spotters who live outside of the major cities and who may live on a farm or ranch.

Upcoming SkyWarn trainings will be held in:

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• Williston at the Williams County Highway Complex on April 9 at 7 p.m. Central

• Hebron at the Community Center on April 18 at 6:30 p.m. Central

• Watford City at the media room of the Intermediate School on April 23 at 7 p.m. Central

• Hettinger at the Research Center on April 25 at 7 p.m. Mountain

• Mott at the Fire Hall on April 30 at 6:30 p.m. Mountain

• Manning at the Emergency Management Office on May 10 at 6 p.m. Mountain

• Bowman at the Bowman County Courthouse on May 14 at 6:30 p.m. Mountain

For more information about the SkyWarn trainings go to www.weather.gov/bis/skytrain . For the latest forecast go to www.weather.gov/bis .

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