Spring 2024 Spotter Training Classes Now Being Scheduled


  • In-person and virtual spotter training will start the week of February 19th, and continue through early April.
  • Information will be added to the spotter training schedule as training is scheduled.
  • These talks are free and open to the public.
  • If you are having trouble accessing the calendar below, please click here.

Spotter training classes cover severe weather hazards including thunderstorms and tornadoes.  This includes the general structure and movement of severe thunderstorms, identification of important storm features, and safety concerns.

  • All in-person and virtual classes to be conducted by the NWS Quad Cities office are scheduled and posted below.
  • All classes last about 2 hours.
  • They are free and open to the public. Pre-registration is required for virtual classes.
  • Classes are appropriate for all ages. Ages 10 and up will likely get the most out of the training. 
  • You may attend a class in any location, offered by any NWS office, regardless of where you live.  (Links to classes conducted by neighboring forecast offices):  Des Moines   LaCrosse   Milwaukee  Chicago   Lincoln  

Online Spotter Training Course

The online course is a great introduction to storm spotting and can also be used as a refresher or a way to reinforce what you have learned in an in-person class.  

Online Spotter Training Course

Important note: At this time the NWS Quad Cities only accepts new spotter registrations from people who attend a class in person or virtually.  The reason…relaying accurate information effectively is critical during severe weather.  Therefore, we feel that it is important to attend spotter training in person to optimize this process. 

What to Report

Important points to remember during severe weather:

  • The NWS Quad Cities Forecast Office service area covers 36 Counties in Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri.  Because of this large coverage area, it is important to maintain efficient and effective communication.
  • Take the time to be sure of your observation.
  • Take the time to formulate your report before calling.  
  • If you are mobile, make sure you know where you are at all times.
  • Remain CALM.  Speak slowly and clearly. 
  • please do not relay second-hand reports from TV, scanners, etc.

Printable Spotter Reference Sheet

Reporting Criteria: Please report only the following:Weather-related damageSize/number of trees or limbs downDamage to cars, trains, tractors, other vehiclesDamage to buildings, signs, traffic signals, etcSignificant crop damagePower lines or poles downFlash Flooding6-inches of water (curb-deep) or more flowing across roads2-feet of water standing on roadsRoads closed or washed outCreeks or streams out-of-banksFloating carsBuildings with basements or first floors flooding Mud or rock slides or debris flowTornado
Funnel Cloud
Wall Cloud
rotation visible – Yes, No, Not sure.Heavy Rain (1″ or more)
Wind gusts (40 mph or greater)
Hail (size?)measured or estimated?  
Amateur Radio and Storm Spotting
In some communities, the amateur radio community plays a very important role in severe weather operations by collecting ground-truth spotter reports in their area and communicating those reports to our office. This service is provided entirely by volunteers operating Skywarn Nets independent of NWS Quad Cities, and is both extremely valuable and appreciated! Net control support operations may be conducted independently to the National Weather Service during periods of severe weather, primarily by volunteers from the Davenport Amateur Radio Club. Within our office, we have 2m, 440, and HF capability. This equipment is used as emergency backup in the event of significant communication outages. 
Become a Spotter in the NWS Quad Cities Area

So you are interested in becoming a storm spotter for the National Weather Service in the Quad Cities area. That’s great!  Now you are wondering how to get started.  Well, you’ve come to the right place!  Here are the steps: 

1. Read some brief background about storm spotting.
About the Skywarn spotter program 
Frequently Asked Questions about Storm Spotting

2. Attend a storm spotter training class, in person or virtually. 
Schedule of Spotter Training Classes
Classes are free, last about 2 hours, and are open to the public.  In the  Quad Cities service area, spotter training classes are conducted from late February through early April.  Scheduling of spotter training classes begins around the New Year. Spotter training classes cover the basics of severe weather, including storm structure, feature identification, spotter positioning, safety, and severe weather communication.

3. Register as a storm spotter for the NWS Quad Cities.    
(after attending an in-person or on-line class)Fill out this google form to register as a new spotter or change your location/contact information:  Skywarn Spotter Registration Link By completing the form, you become a  registered NWS spotter.  This allows the NWS to call you for information about severe weather in your area.
4. Find out about the local storm spotting network in your community.
If possible, attend a class in your local area so you will gain the most information about the Skywarn activities in your own community.  If you are not able to attend a class in your community, contact your county emergency manager to learn more about local storm spotting efforts.
5. Retrain.The NWS Quad Cities requires that spotters retrain every 2 to 4 years to remain active.

More information can be found here: NWS Quad Cities Storm Spotters (weather.gov)

***Courtesy of the National Weather Service***

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