National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

 

Anchorage Weather Spotter Program

 

 

  • What is a weather spotter?

Weather spotters are critical eyes-on-the-ground volunteers who identify and report severe weather to the National Weather Service. In Alaska, this              consists of reporting snowfall totals or the presence of freezing rain and ice accumulation. We encourage spotters to report any weather that is impacting their community.

 

  • Why are spotters needed?

Spotters provide verification of severe weather occurring at the surface in their area. Due to the limited radar coverage in Alaska, our spotter reports are often the only way of confirming what is going on at the surface. We use our spotter reports to aid in the forecasting and advisory process to make sure we are putting out the most accurate and up-to-date forecasts and weather advisories as possible. We also use the reports to inform the public through the media of any significant weather.

 

  • What do weather spotters report?

               Great question! Significant or hazardous weather in Southcentral Alaska may include:

Severe weather

  • Thunderstorms
  • Waterspouts
  • Hail
  • Winds of 40 mph or greater

Urban and/or small stream flooding

  • Roads closed due to high water
  • Roads impassible due to high water
  • Small streams overflowing their banks
  • Land slides

Winter weather

  • Freezing rain or freezing drizzle
  • Thundersnow
  • 6 inches of new snowfall in 12 hours
  • Will I get paid to be a spotter?

               No. All of our spotters are volunteers.

 

  • Is there any training required?

               Yes. All interested Weather Spotters must first fill out the New Spotter Sign-up Form, complete the Alaska Weather Spotter Training Course, and                     pass the Alaska Weather Spotter Quiz. A certificate will be emailed within a week of successful course completion.

 

  • How much of a time commitment would it be?

The training to become a certified Alaska Weather Spotter takes about 45 minutes to complete. Once trained, forecasters typically call our weather spotters a few times a year. We encourage our weather spotters to be proactive and call our office if they are observing hazardous weather or weather-related impacts within their communities. If you live in a more rural area, we might call more often since it can be difficult to get reports in those areas. Weather Spotters can also submit reports online as often as is convenient.

 

  • What geographic areas are you looking for spotters in?

Anywhere in Alaska! Some areas where weather spotters are needed the most include the Kenai Peninsula, the Susitna and Matanuska Valleys, the Copper River Basin, Southwestern Alaska, the Alaska Peninsula, and the Aleutians.

 

  • Will I need to buy any equipment?

 It is not necessary to have any weather instruments to be a weather spotter. Snowboards and snowsticks are helpful when reporting snowfall measurements, however, unfortunately, we cannot supply any official equipment. 

 

  • What is the difference between a spotter and a COOP observer?

COOP observers submit weather information such as temperature and precipitation on a daily basis, while weather spotters only report hazardous weather impacting their communities as needed.

 

  • What information will I need to give? Will my information ever be given out?

We will need a phone number that we can call in the event we have additional questions. We also need an address or an approximate location (ex. 5 miles NE of Talkeetna) of where you are observing the hazardous weather. Your information will never be distributed. It will only be used for storm reports.

 

  • Is there an age requirement?

All weather spotters need to be 18 years of age or older.

 

  • What if I change my mind or move?

You can request to update your information or be removed from the spotter list at any time.

 

  • Have additional questions?

Please don't hesitate to reach out! Email our spotter focal point, Kaitlyn O'Brien at kaitlyn.obrien@noaa.gov or our Warning Coordination Meteorologist, Louise Fode at louise.fode@noaa.gov. You can also call the Anchorage NWS office at (907) 266-5105.

 

 

 

 

sign me up!

 

Ready to become an Alaska certified volunteer Weather Spotter? We'd love your help!

 

1.   First, please enroll by completing the New Spotter Sign-up Form

                                                                       2.   Next, review the Alaska Weather Spotter Training materials

                                                                       3.   Finally, please complete the Alaska Weather Spotter Quiz

 

 

We will be in touch with you shortly!

Thanks for your interest & participation!