DECATUR, Ill. (WAND) - Keeping eyes on the weather is described as a team effort. While forecasters are tracking storm patterns, they also rely on storm spotters to keep them up to speed.
Spotting severe weather plays an important part to warning the public. Something the National Weather Service in Lincoln can attest to. Ed Shimon, a meteorologist, said there was: hail, strong winds and tornadoes over the months in Central Illinois.
"Just this last December when we had a major tornado outbreak. We had a lot of trained spotters that were confident enough to get outside to look at storms approaching," Shimons said.
A storm spotter can be compared to a watchdogs on the ground. That's why dozens of Central Illinoisans showed up to learn the basics.
Understanding what kind of clouds and funnels are forming and specifying its patterns can assist the NWS and local dispatchers in warning public in a matter of minutes. Lieutenant Jim Root from the Macon County Sheriff's Office said they can't have every deputy on storm watch.
"We do rely some on the general public to provide information," Root said.
Being a spotter is a skill meteorologist say can benefit a person in the future. The NWS has a page one can read up on, here.