Weather Spotter Information
The National Weather Service in Topeka has a large spotter network across northeast, north central and east central Kansas. Our spotters are vital to our mission - they are the eyes and ears in the field, and are a vital link in the relay of critical weather information to the public.
How do I Become a Spotter?
We hold spotter training sessions across our area in the early spring each year. Presentations are typically about an hour long, and are usually given by a meteorologist from our office. Watch our website for the calendar - usually posted in February or March, with a schedule usually running through the month of April. If you are interested in becoming a spotter, and we are in need of spotters in your area, we will have sign up sheets available at spotter training sessions. Please note that in some of the more populated areas, we may have many spotters already (such as the Topeka and Lawrence areas) and may not be adding new spotters. However there are many rural areas in which we very much need spotters to report weather phenomena.
Current spotters are encouraged to attend training sessions as a refresher course on how to identify storm features, what to look for, and what to call into our office.
Once you are registered, we encourage spotters to call in reports. We may also call you at your home and ask you about ongoing weather in your area.
How do I call in a Report?
If you are a stationary spotter, please call the number provided to you at spotter training.
For the general public, please call 234-2592, and hold the line for our staff. If the information is not time-critical (for example you want to report snowfall totals, as opposed to an ongoing tornado) , feel free to send a report via email.
If you have internet access and prefer to submit storm reports online, consider signing up to be an eSpotter, at http://espotter.weather.gov
What To Report
A list of what to report is presented at spotter training. Generally speaking, we are interested in funnel clouds and tornadoes, hail, strong winds, as well as total snowfall, dense fog, and heavy rainfall (an inch an hour or more).
Estimating Wind Speed:
50 – 57 MPH: Small Branches/Limbs Broken (Less Than 2 inches Diameter)
58 – 69 MPH: Large Limbs/Power Lines Down (2-4 Inches Diameter)
70 – 80 MPH: Small Trees Uprooted, Very Large Limbs Down, Shingles Torn Off
> 80 MPH: Large Trees Uprooted, Power Poles Snapped Off, Cars Blown Off Roads
Reporting Hail Size:
Half Dollar… 1.25”
Tennis Ball... 2.50”
Please do not call in 'marble' sized hail - as marbles come in many sizes.