Severe weather ‘spotter’ classes resume in-person training this month

JOHNSTON — Iowans who want a crash course in severe weather can be a part of the storm spotter classes starting this month.

Meteorologist Allen Curtis, at the National Weather Service in Johnston, says COVID-19 threw a wrench in their training efforts in recent years, but they’re getting back on track now.

“We are actually reintroducing some of our in-person spotter training this year,” Curtis says, “but we will also be continuing to do a handful of virtual classes, for people who want to do that.”

All sorts of people of all ages can sit in on the courses.

“Whether you have an interest in severe weather, a casual interest in weather, or even if you have a fear of weather and you just want to get more familiar with it,” Curtis says, “this is the kind of class we recommend to the public.”

The classes include a multimedia presentation containing information about identifying and reporting severe weather, spotter safety, severe weather climatology in Iowa, thunderstorm structure and threats, and more. Students will learn about derechos, too.

“We’re going to cover a number of things, ranging from recent severe weather — so if people remember December 15th, that’s a big one that we’ll cover,” Curtis says. “We’ll transition into things you can do to stay safe, individually, traveling with your family, things to look for in the sky, and things like how you can prepare at home, what items to have ready.”

The courses run about an hour, they’re open to anyone and they’re free. The first class will be held on March 15th in Adel, with more to follow in cities including: Hampton (Monday April 18th), Creston, Eldora, Corning, Fort Dodge and Grinnell, in addition to several virtual classes.

Learn more at: and click on the Storm Spotter link.