Updated: 04/29/2014 10:30 PM
Created: 04/29/2014 8:31 PM KSTP.com
By: Tim Sherno
During the severe weather season, images and video of thunderstorms and tornadoes are common on social media and in the news. Many of those images come from storm chasers, people who follow storms either professionally or as a hobby.
There are others who watch the sky as part of an elaborate safety-net created by the National Weather Service, the program is called Skywarn.
Todd Krause, the warning coordinator for the National Weather Service in Chanhassen Minnesota, says there are thousands of trained spotters in the metro who are part of the Skywarn network. "Weather spotters are really anybody who is interested in weather and in serving the community."
According to Krause, spotters attend free classes and are taught how to identify the features of a developing storm, "The training tells them what to look for before the tornado develops. That's the real key, for the weather spotter to figure it out before the rest of the world figures it out."
Spotters report to the Skywarn network, and the information is quickly passed to the news media and public safety officials to give people in the area of a dangerous storm as much time as possible to get to shelter.
Krause says spotters play a major role in that process, "The weather spotters in the field are the ones that confirm that tornado is there, and when you have confirmed tornados, people are much more likely to get to shelter."