2020 Spotter Class
Trained spotters are important to the safety of Steele County. An effective weather warning system combined with public education has probably been the largest factor in reducing loss of life due to severe weather. Skywarn spotters and the training programs figure prominently in both the warning system and education efforts about severe weather and its effects. The ability of trained spotters to provide accurate and timely observation reports is key to providing timely and accurate information to the general public.
Since the Chanhassen radar cannot not detect weather activity near the ground, the NWS depends on visual observations to complete the picture. The kinds of reports sought by the NWS can include hail, wind, damage, flash flooding, wall clouds (the area of a thunderstorm where tornadoes can form), funnel clouds and tornadoes. Establishing the existence of a rotating wall cloud or funnel cloud can provide the NWS with verification of dangerous conditions in the storm that are indicated, but not seen by radar.
Because conditions in and near a thunderstorm are chaotic and confusing, many cloud formations can erroneously identified by untrained observbers. Trained spotters are needed to ensure that reported observations are accurate. This helps to reduce the number of unnecessary warnings issued by the NWS.
Many trained spotters travel across the county during severe storm events to make first-hand observations. They make reports to the Owatonna Communications Center by Amateur Radio, cell phone, or ARMER radios. Trained spotters are also needed throughout the county willing to make observations from their home or place of work.
Anyone interested in learning more about severe weather is invited to attend. You do not have to volunteer as a SKYWARN spotter to attend this class.
Class will be held at the Owatonna Fire Department.
Pre-register by sending an email to
If you cannot make the Steele County class, training will be available at other locations across the region.
Spotters must attend a training class at least once every two years to remain certified.
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Steele County SKYWARN