Become a certified weather spotter for NWS and WBIR

March 3, 2017: Weather spotters play an important role in informing WBIR and the National Weather Service about the conditions around our area.

From snow in parts of our area Friday morning to Wednesday's severe storms, viewers and readers like you have kept WBIR 10News informed by sharing pictures and videos of what conditions were like in your neighborhood.

Some people send weather updates to not only WBIR but also the National Weather Service - and you can, too!

The NWS is offering free spotter training classes. That schedule and how to register is HERE.

Josh Marler has been a certified NWS weather spotter for about 15 years.

"I have seen a tornado touch down in the area of the ORNL plant. I've seen major, major hail," Marler recalled. "I've seen flooding. I've seen big snows that we've had here in East Tennessee, including the blizzards, so I've seen a whole lot. There's not much I haven't seen."

When bad weather strikes, Marler is in communication with the NWS in Morristown.

"(I'll) tell them what I'm seeing, where it's at and who might be affected," he said.

For Marler, weather spotting is personal.

"Back in 1993, there was a tornado that hit my hometown, in Lenoir City, and ever since then - I was about five years old - and when that hits your memory, you just always remember it and you get interested in it and want to study more and more about it," he said.

He also submits photos to WBIR, something WBIR 10Weather reporter Becca Sweet said is incredibly useful.

"When it comes to our forecasting, you know, their eyes and ears are so important," Sweet explained.

Viewer-submitted photos and videos can help keep people informed and safe.

"The most useful way to reach to us is probably on Facebook and Twitter. Post your pictures, post your video. That's easily shareable," Sweet said. "We can share those pictures with other people and let them know what they're getting prepared to see in their area."

On Friday morning, for example, the northern portion of the viewing area saw some snow.

"If it wasn't for the viewers, we really wouldn't know who was seeing that snow. We can see it on our radar coming in, but it's the pictures and telling us where, 'Okay, we have about a half of an inch here.' That's what really does help us," Sweet explained.

And during Wednesday's storms, viewers alerted WBIR to flooded roadways, downed trees, wind damage and more. WBIR Weather then shared those photos on its Facebook page.

Jeff Peterson is also a certified weather spotter, based out of Anderson County.

"Weather is just so fascinating. It's always changing, and living here, you see four seasons," Peterson said.

He and Marler both recommend that anybody interested in weather take one of the National Weather Service's free spotter training classes.

"That is important because we've got to keep our people safe, especially here in East Tennessee," Marler said. "We have tornadoes at night, and it's not the easiest thing to see them at night, but the more and more we communicate with the National Weather Service, the more and more warning can be given out to the public."

The next class is in Knoxville, at 6 p.m. on Monday, March 7.

People can expect the classes to take between 90 minutes and two hours, NWS meteorologist Jessica Winton said.

The class consists of teaching about how storms form, safety and other weather-related knowledge through instruction and videos. It is directed at beginners, so no previous weather knowledge is needed.

Weather spotter certification must be renewed every two years, so somebody who got certified last year doesn't have to attend a class this year, though Winton said they are welcome.

© 2017 WBIR.COM


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