Sky Warn Program Trains Severe Weather Spotters

By KBJR News 1

August 4, 2010 Updated Aug 4, 2010 at 11:47 AM CDT

Severe weather can strike the Northland any time during any season.

This is the aftermath of a spring blizzard in Ely in 1971.

This is the storm front that spawned tornadoes in Siren in 2001.

With powerful storms, knowledge translates to safety and there is a place to learn about handling nasty weather.

It's the Sky Warn program.

"For the Sky Warn program, we train volunteers on what to look for in the cloud formations and then report information to the weather service." says NWS storm expert Carol Christenson.

Even in the Doppler age, radar can't completely replace eyes on the ground.

Sky Warn spotters are needed to verify what the radio beams indicate.

"They are our eyes. They scan the sky for rotation, wall clouds, funnel clouds and hail, strong winds and when something occurs they call it to the National Weather Service." said Christenson.

During storms, Sky Warn spotters often help at the weather service office.

They take storm reports via ham radio networks.

Anyone with an interest in weather can join the team and work with people like postal service worker Loren Kuhnly.

"I got into Sky Warn spotting when I was 16 helping on a farm in Lindstrom, Minnesota and I witnessed a tornado. I thought this is pretty cool and how come more people don't know about it?"

People can know more about it.

Spring is the time of year the weather service offers Sky Warn classes around the region.

"Carol Christenson says by earning a Sky Warn sticker like this, a Sky Warn spotter will not only keep themselves and their families safe, but the entire Northland.

"Their information helps us warn people of impending severe weather and helps us educate people on weather that's coming they're way." according to Christenson.

Meteorologist Dave Anderson, the Northland's News Center.

Here are the upcoming Sky Warn sessions:

April, 2008 - Upcoming
Day City, State Time Location
23 Walker, MN
(Cass County) 6:30pm CDT At the high school

25 Grand Marais, MN
(Cook County) 7:00pm CDT At the community center

28 International Falls, MN
(Koochiching County) 6:30pm CDT Rainy River Community College Science Bldg, Rm 108

29 Ironwood, WI
(Iron County) 6:30pm CDT This Skywarn training is in Gogebic County, MI, adjacent to Iron County, WI. At Gogebic County Community College, Adacemic Bldg, Room A211

29 Washburn, WI
(Bayfield County) 7:00pm CDT Bayfield County Law Enforcement Center, 117 E. Sixth St.

May, 2008 - Upcoming
Day City, State Time Location
05 Cornucopia, WI
(Bayfield County) 7:00pm CDT Bell Community Center, 22615 CO Hwy C

06 Hertel, WI
(Burnett County) 1:30pm CDT St. Croix Chippewa Tribal Health Clinic 24663 Angeline Ave

07 Iron River, WI
(Bayfield County) 7:00pm CDT Fire Hall

08 Duluth, MN
(St. Louis County) 6:30pm CDT Duluth Secondary Technical School 802 East Central Entrance- near Central High School

12 Hayward, WI
(Sawyer County) 2:00pm CST County Ambulance Garage (Building behind sheriff dept.)

12 Winter, WI
(Sawyer County) 6:30pm CDT Fire Hall, 5130 N Crawford St.

13 Duluth/Pike Lake, MN
(St. Louis County) 6:30pm CDT St. Louis County Emergency Management, 5735 Old Miller Trunk Hwy

14 Finlayson, MN
(Pine County) 6:30pm CDT Community Center