ST. LOUIS – The National Weather Service is offering free classes to anyone who wants to become a trained storm spotter.

Whether you’d like to report severe weather or if you simply want to learn more about severe weather, the NWS said it needs help on the ground.

The classes only take two hours to complete and are usually offered at night.

“We show them how to spot severe weather, how to spot flash flooding, snow, ice, all that kind of stuff,” said Matt Beitscher, meteorologist for NWS. “We train them, we give them a lot of tools that they need to effectively communicate things to us.”

Classes can be taken virtually or in person, in Missouri and Illinois, and have no age limit. Attendees can join thousands of trained storm spotters across the country.

Karla Templeton works with the Red Cross as a disaster program specialist, and she’s a severe weather enthusiast.

“What’s really funny is this class actually is what started my career in disaster services,” Templeton said.

She’s attending the class to refresh her knowledge.

“I’m a weather nerd. I work in disaster humanitarian services with the Red Cross, so disasters and storms are kind of my forte,” Templeton said. “We also use this as an education and recruiting tool. Because volunteers are in desperate need within the American Red Cross.”

The classes will teach about storms and how to report changing weather conditions to the National Weather Service.

Attendees are taught the basics of thunderstorm development, what features to look for, and what, when, and how to report information safely.

“When storm spotters report a tornado to us, we will put that information in our tornado warnings,” Beitscher said. “And then people will be able to read that and say, ‘Oh wow, there’s actually a tornado on the ground at 270’ and such and such.”

If you cannot make it to one of the in-person classes, you can attend a virtual class. For more information, click here.