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National Weather Service offering free 'Skywarn' training in Upton

An umbrella was of little help to one

An umbrella was of little help to one woman walking outside federal court in Central Islip as strong winds and rain swept across Long Island on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. Photo Credit: Ed Betz

Calling all weather geeks.

The Upton office of the National Weather Service is offering “Skywarn spotter training” on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Brookhaven National Laboratory. The free three-hour session touches on how to identify key features of severe weather including  thunderstorms, lightning, tornadoes, hail, flooding -- with a special focus on staying safe while doing it, says weather service meteorologist Brian Ciemnecki.

The freshly minted volunteers can then join a network of about 1,600 other trained spotters in the region who go into action and report what they see when nasty weather comes calling.

They are “our eyes on the ground,” Ciemnecki says. While meteorologists are monitoring and updating forecasts based on radar and other digital tools, the spotters “provide the ground truth information” that can help verify and finesse the forecast.

Volunteers must be 16 years old, and Ciemnecki stresses this is not a class for “storm chasers” who pursue severe weather.

The deadline to register is Monday. For more information, visit


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