Snow might be in the forecast, but the National Weather Service already is thinking about tornadoes, hail and spring storms.
The weather service is seeking volunteer storm spotters and began offering free training this week. No registration or experience is necessary.
Storm spotters are crucial to public safety because radar can't detect weather at ground level. Instead, radar peers into the sky at cloud level, which means it often is taking soundings above tornadoes. For this reason, the weather service depends on the public to confirm what meteorologists suspect is happening on the ground. This gives the weather service greater confidence in issuing warnings.
Anyone can attend a storm spotter class, and no one who takes the class is obligated to become a storm spotter. Many volunteers help by observing the weather from their homes.
Classes are held in dozens of communities, small and large, in all states at risk of tornadoes. The single session typically lasts 90 minutes. Most are held in the evening during the workweek, although a few are held on weekends.
The session in Omaha will be March 25, and Bellevue's will be March 27.
For a schedule of classes, go to www.weather.gov. This is the National Weather Service home page. Click on the interactive national map to get to the home page of your local weather service office, where you will find a link to a schedule.