DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Tornadoes created devastation across the South on Sunday. During severe weather events, the radar beam can’t always provide everything meteorologist need to know. The National Weather Service created Skywarn to train weather spotters.

Severe weather season is here. Dayton Skywarn is preparing for spotter training on Saturday, March 9. Louis Long is section co-coordinator. He’s been with Dayton Skywarn for almost 20 years. 

“We are amateur radio operators who receive severe weather reports,” Long said. 

They cover an area of 16 counties across the Miami Valley. Spotters from each county call in weather reports.

“That was a way to stay involved with the amateur radio hobby, help folks out, and keep my interest up in the weather,” Long said.

Facebook, Twitter, and Telephone are all way to relay reports to the National Weather Service. Skywarn spotters primarily use amateur radio to relay reports.

“With amateur radio, we aren’t reliant on things like the cell towers,” Long said, “and can still get that needed information into the weather service.”

He said all it takes is one tornado to knock out a cell tower and people are left without a way to communicate. 

“We play a really important role,” Long said.  

His interest in severe weather started after the 1974 Xenia tornado. 

 “I can remember hearing all kinds of news reports about how devastating it was. I was really interested in severe weather,” Long said, “but also at the same time it kind of scared me as a kid.”

Long said the class isn’t just for people that want to be spotters. Anyone interested in learning more about severe weather is welcome to come. 

National Weather Service meteorologists are beginning to pick up on an eastward shift in Tornado Alley. 

National Weather Service Meteorologists will be in Dayton this Saturday. The Skywarn spotter class starts at 9 a.m. at the Miami Valley Hospital Berry Women’s Center Auditorium. 

There are several other Skywarn classes planned this spring. A full list can be found here

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