Bracing for the Storm: How to become a weather spotter

Local News

How YOU can help meteorologists track storms

LAS VEGAS ( KLAS ) – Monsoon season started in mid-June and will be in effect until the end of September. Anyone who has spent some time in the Las Vegas valley knows it can be a dangerous time when storms roll over the valley and cause flooding.

Over the years, there have been lives lost and property damage due to the flooding.

When there’s trouble in the sky or on the ground, the 8 News Now WeatherNow forecast team goes into action and often depends on viewers to hear what is happening in local neighborhoods — those videos and pictures help tell the story.

SPECIAL SECTION: Bracing For The Storm

Some viewers take another step by becoming extra eyes and ears for meteorologists as “SKYWARN Spotters.”

“For all the technology we have – radar, satellite – we need to know what’s going on on the ground, and that’s where the spotter comes in,” said Andy Gorelow, National Weather Service.

Keith Gordon went through the weather service training. He says the 2-hour online class changes a pre-training call to something useful.

“One of the things you don’t want to do is call the weather service and say, ‘Gadzooks, it’s raining cats and dogs near here,'” he said. “They depend on people like us to report it’s raining. This is how much it’s raining.”

Gordon is also a ham radio operator, but you don’t have to be one to be a spotter.

With his training he reported a thunderstorm forming over the southeast valley a couple of months ago.

“I spotted roll clouds, I spotted virga (cloud formation) and pretty soon we had a microburst and a gust front.”

Gorelow said the information spotters provide is very helpful.

“We don’t know how large the hail is, we don’t know if there’s any damage being done. We don’t know if there’s flash flooding. So, we rely heavily on weather spotters to give us this information.”

Just like you don’t have to be a ham radio operator to be a skywarn spotter, you also don’t have to be a skywarn spotter to be an 8NewsNow Junior Weather Buddy. If you do want to take that extra spotter training step, here’s the link to the SKYWARN Spotter program.

Always be sure to send your weather pictures and videos to pix@8newsnow.com.

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