To become a SKYWARN spotter in Minnesota you must take a FREE class that generally lasts 2-3 hours. All classes are taught either by NWS staff or volunteer instructors who have been certified to provide the training.

Although the training does last for 2-years, we strongly encourage spotters to take the class annually to stay fresh with their observation skills. Nearly all classes are taught early in the spring season (usually between the months of March thru May). For a listing of classes being offered locally check out our Calendar of Events page. For a more complete listing of classes offered throughout the Twin Cities NWS County Warning Area, click HERE.

Here’s What You’ll Learn

  • Role of Storm Spotters
  • Identifying Thunderstorm Risk
  • Step By Step Storm Spotting
  • Storm Spotter Safety
  • Reporting Critical Information

The classes use many videos and graphics to aid a person in developing the skills necessary to storm spot both accurately and safely.

Why Take The Training

Here in Goodhue County, depending on the location, we are 40-65 miles away from the NWS radar site in Chanhassen, MN. Now, due to the curvature of the earth, that means the radar signal is only observing data at best 2,000′ above ground level(AGL) or higher, and at worst(in the farthest reaches) anything below 5,000′ AGL simply cannot be seen on radar. That’s where the importance of spotters comes in. Tornadoes and many other severe weather occurrences happen on the ground and spotters must fill in the gap where radar cannot “see.”

Storm Spotter Resources (links and downloads)