NWS looking for weather spotters

HOUGHTON – The National Weather Service has about 17 winter weather spotters working in Baraga, Houghton, Keweenaw and Ontonagon counties, but some areas are better covered than others, according to Justin Titus.

Titus, who is a meteorologist with the NWS Negaunee Township office, said the number of spotters fluctuates, so more volunteers to watch the weather would be appreciated.

“The more the merrier,” he said.

Although there is generally more of a need for winter weather spotters in rural areas, Titus said there are none in the Hancock/Houghton area.

“We haven’t had anybody show interest in that area,” he said.

He doesn’t know why no one in the Hancock/Houghton area has expressed an interest to be a spotter, Titus said. There are spotters in Atlantic Mine, Jacobsville, Laurium and Painesdale, however.

When someone asks to be a weather spotter – which is an unpaid position – Titus said a representative from the NWS Negaunee Township office will come to the person’s home to explain what to look for, how to use the equipment provided by the NWS, and the best place to set up the equipment.

Titus said the weather spotter training includes how to read snow and rain gauges, how to determine the amount of moisture in snow, and how to read and record temperatures.

Of particular need to the NWS is people who will take readings and report on a daily basis, Titus said.

“That would be extremely helpful,” he said.

The training to be a winter weather spotter takes about two hours, Titus said.

“It’s really pretty basic,” he said.

Also needed are storm spotters for spring and summer, Titus said. The training for that takes place in the spring.

People are taught reporting procedures and how to keep safe while watching for lightning, hail and wind.

Although many people who ask to be storm spotters may stop after one season, Titus said some people like it so much, they come back every year.

“We get a lot of people who do repeat that,” he said.

Titus said the NWS has unattended weather-recording equipment on the Keweenaw Peninsula, but actually having eyes on the area is more important than the machinery.

“It’s very valuable to us, especially in the Keweenaw,” he said.

To get information about becoming a winter weather spotter or storm spotter, call the National Weather Service Negaunee Township office at 475-5212.