Fairbanks Residents Train to be Storm Spotters for National Weather Service

FAIRBANKS, Alaska - Living in Alaska brings with it certain challenges, whether it's freezing rain during the winter or thunderstorms during the summer, unexpected weather can cause big problems.
The national weather service is asking for the public's help to identity weather related dangers in real-time. They're calling them 'storm spotters.'
Storm Spotters are volunteers who train to become an extra set of eyes and ears for the national weather service.
This is drone footage of an ice jam along the Tanana River in Salcha on Monday. Although this may not look like a storm it still poses a risk to the surrounding community.
"We saw it was just a really small ice jam, but the slew actually started moving upstream, because of how fast it hit," said Baird Stiefel, the borough's emergency manager.
Because of the ice jam, the river started overflowing onto nearby roads.
Examples like this are why residents came to the training to learn how to accurately report weather events.
"We live on the south facing slope, we look out across Fairbanks, all the way to Delta, see the Alaska Range, and I love watching the storms come through in the summer time. So this just gives me a reason to do it," said Mary Lynch, Fairbanks resident.
While it can be fun, weather officials say reporting what people see also serves a purpose - providing the national weather service with critical data.
"Especially during a snowstorm, freezing rain event, their reports could help give credibility to our warnings, and could actually be the first indication that something is going on," said Lindsay Tardif-Huber, lead forecaster for the National Weather Service.
Stiefel reinforced the impact these spotters can have. "You help their job, but you also make the community safer," said Stiefel.
As of Tuesday night, there are now 12 more spotters, in addition to the nearly one hundred already living in the interior.
The lead forecaster for the national weather service says that right now they are monitoring for any other areas at risk of ice jams or flooding.