Weather spotters wanted: all Hazards training classes coming up in person and online
Via Telluride News By Leslie Vreeland Contributing Editor
Ever think about becoming an official weather spotter? Then the National Weather Service wants you. There are several All Hazards Spotter Training classes coming up, like the one pictured above in Goodland, Kansas. (Courtesy photo)
Lightning strikes, damaging winds, dangerous hail, flash flooding and wildfire: welcome to spring in Colorado, when severe thunderstorms are right around the corner.
Let’s not forget tornadoes, and their ominous precursors, funnel clouds.
louds on the Western Slope,” National Weather Service Meteorologist Lucas Boyer said. “They’re rare,” but they’re not unheard of.
The National Weather Service’s Boulder office published a map of tornadoes by county, from 1950-2022. By far the greatest number — a total of 10 — touched down in Mesa County during that period. Delta County saw four tornadoes; Montrose County had two; La Plata County had five. San Miguel, Ouray, Dolores, San Juan, Hinsdale and Gunnison counties were all blessedly free of twisters, but this region’s wildly varied terrain — from 14,000-foot peaks to high mesas, all the way down to canyon country and deserts — brings its own, rich variety of meteorological hazards each spring and summer.
The National Weather Service is asking for assistance in keeping track of it all.
“Weather spotters are absolutely helpful,” said Boyer, who is stationed in the service’s Grand Junction office. “We have automated sensors across this region that we use to get weather observations. But a sensor only takes a one-dimensional, vertical look” at conditions outside. “Having eyes on the ground means we have a large group of people to help us see what’s going on. It also gives us a better idea of what’s happening between the sensors.”
“We have easily dozens of sensors” between Montrose and Telluride, Boyer added. “There are formal observation” locations in Montrose and Telluride. There are also “small networks of sensors scattered around that are used by the forest service and fire agencies. In Ridgway, we’ve used some neighborhood networks that folks have tied in to, or have agreed to install sensors sensors at their homes. We can’t use these for official climatology, but we definitely use them for ballpark information: in the summer, for example, during monsoon season, they are very helpful for tracking rainfall amounts. They can’t tell us where a storm is going, or how long it will be in the area, but rainfall rates give us a quick idea about stream flows,” which helps the weather assess the potential (and issue a warning for) flash flooding when every second counts.
The weather service has several All Hazards Spotter Training classes coming up for those who would like to learn more about local weather phenomena and assist. In-person classes are scheduled for Saturday, April 22, in Grand Junction from 9-11 a.m. at 1326 N. 1st St., and Thursday, May 4, from 5-7 p.m. in Moab at the Grand Center (182 N., 500 W., Room 3).
Online classes are coming up April 25 and May 9, at 9-11 a.m. The weather service says more dates will be added soon. To sign up, fill out the form at tinyurl.com/bdhycz3v.
There’s nothing you need to purchase to become a weather spotter, Boyer said. Conversely you shouldn’t expect financial compensation: this is a volunteer gig. (On the other hand, what you might get from the training is priceless: your observations could help save lives.)
“This is all-volunteer,” Boyer stressed. “We don’t mandate that people purchase equipment. A lot of people who sign up to be spotters are super weather-curious, and have already bought their own gear.”
The service also doesn’t expect spotters to forego, say, a summer vacation. “We try to get as much input as we can from people, but we understand that folks have personal lives,” Boyer said. “That’s why it’s important to have a broad array of volunteers: if five people are away in summer, there’s a chance number six is there in town” when severe weather arrives.
“There’s always weather, and we’re always looking for spotters,” he added. “Winter weather, and thunderstorms in summer — those are most important. We count on the good will of the community to be our eyes where we can’t see.”
Anne-Britt of Mountain Rose Realty and other Telluride real estate professionals certainly understand: when dangerous weather arrives, every second counts. They hope you’ll join the ranks — and help make sure everyone stays safe when storms come to town.
The National Weather Service is always looking for spotters in Telluride — let’s do our part to keep our community safe! Join us in taking action by signing up for a training session today. Together, we can get informed about the potential dangers posed by severe weather and take the necessary measures to ensure that everyone remains safe during these events. Thank you for your consideration and commitment to keeping our beloved city of Telluride safe!
If you're looking to move to Telluride and need help navigating the sometimes-treacherous real estate terrain, experienced local Anne-Britt of Mountain Rose Realty can guide your journey. With decades of experience in the area, she knows all the ins and out of what it takes to buy or sell a property in Telluride. Contact Anne-Britt at Mountain Rose Realty for all your real estate needs today!