National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

2018 Storm Spotter Training Schedule

Severe weather season is right around the corner so it's time to begin preparing for the possibility of severe storms and their associated hazards.  The first reports of severe weather in the Tri-State area typically occur around late March or early April. In 2017, storm spotters, law enforcement, emergency managers, storm chasers and the public called in a total of 13 tornadoes, 225 hail reports, 125 high wind reports and 44 flood events to our office. Reports like these, in real-time as the event unfolds, are invaluable and help our forecasters and radar operators stay on top of the situation.  For many decades, storm spotters have been trained annually and continue to provide vital information about storm severity.  Doppler radar is a great remote-sensing tool, allowing our meteorologists to interrogate thunderstorms and assess their strength. However, accurate storm reports from spotters play a pivotal and irreplaceable role in determining whether or not a storm is severe. 

NWS meteorologists, storm spotters, local emergency officials, and the media worked as a team to protect lives and property through several notable severe weather events in 2017, including:

  • May 10th Flash Flooding
  • May 25th and 26th Severe Weather Outbreak
  • August 10th Significant Severe Thunderstorms (included the significant wind/hail to WaKeeney, KS)
  • October 2nd Tornadoes

The National Weather Service Forecast Office in Goodland, KS is once again offering storm spotter classes in all 19 counties in the Tri-State area.  The first class of 2017 will be held Tuesday, February 27th in Goodland, Kansas.  Classes will continue most weekday evenings through March until the final class on Tuesday, April 3rd in Colby, Kansas.

These interesting and informative classes are open to the public of all ages and are offered free of charge.  If you would like to serve your local community by becoming a volunteer storm spotter, or if you simply want to learn more about severe weather on the High Plains, consider attending one of our classes. 

Becoming a storm spotter is not mandatory if you attend a class.  Many folks simply want to learn more about weather on the High Plains.  All classes will last approximately 2 1/4  hours.

The 2018 Spotter Talks will include:

  • Storm structure (pictures and videos refreshed from last year's presentation!)
  • Important cloud types and clarity on the confusing ones
  • Weather and safety tips (also refreshed!)
  • Sending simulated weather reports to the NWS through the web, email, and social media
  • Real-time response polling! This is brand new and will facilitate group discussions so we can share knowledge and learn together!

Real-time response polling puts cell phones to use, asking group questions where everyone can provide their best guess/answer anonymously via text messaging. These polls will help us gain an understanding on what areas may need a little more discussion. Can you tell the difference between scud clouds and a funnel cloud? From a distance, this can be impossible...even for us meteorologists! Based on your feedback, we will be able to discuss problematic topics more, helping you help us to provide the best information for your communities.

In the end, please remember this: your reports help save lives in your community. Any help/information you provide will help us protect you, your family, and your neighbors!

The National Weather Service and county emergency managers have completed the storm spotter class schedule for this year.  Check out the calendar below for the date and location of a spotter talk near you!  Call 785-899-7119 with any questions about spotter classes, content and locations.


Most classes begin at 630 pm Local Time. However, the Idalia, CO talk begins at 10 am MT!