Friday, January 9, 2009

Rural Weather Spotters Needed

Your National Weather Service office in Ruskin utilizes a vast network of volunteers, called weather spotters, to make more accurate and timely warnings during a severe weather event. Weather spotters are individuals who keep an eye to the sky during events and report severe weather occurrences to our office here in Ruskin. Many times we actively call the spotters as a storm approaches, or after one has passed, to get the latest information on storm phenomena. The information we gather from spotters is placed directly into our warning products so that we can provide the most accurate and up-to-date information on the storms as possible. In addition, their reports help us calibrate our radar system, so future storms can be better understood.

Over the years our spotter network has grown to nearly 3500 volunteers, including individuals, families, and businesses. The vast majority of these spotters reside in well traveled, and highly populated urban/suburban areas. Currently our office is making a strong push to locate people who would like to volunteer as a spotter in many of the less populated areas in southwest Florida. Above are maps of the area depicting where our current spotters are located (green stars) . As you can see there are many empty areas that need filling if our warning program is to reach its full potential.

If you, or someone you know resides in some of the “vacant” areas on the maps (in Levy, Citrus, Sumter, Hernando, Pasco, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Polk, Manatee, Hardee, Highlands, Sarasota, De Soto, Charlotte, or Lee County) and you would like to volunteer please contact our office at 813-645-2323 or contact Mike Cantin directly at

By Mike Cantin

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