The Midwest Storm Spotters League is a not-for-profit group of volunteer storm chasers. Composed of trained members based in Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, and Minnesota, the group strives to keep their communities safe by chasing storms and reporting severe weather events, like tornadoes, the moment they happen. They also post-tornado videos and other eye-catching content to social media for the public to enjoy.
Since the Midwest Storm Spotters League is a not-for-profit storm spotters group, it’s the responsibility of league members to purchase their own weather instruments, storm-spotting vehicles, and equipment.
Several members of the Midwest Storm Spotters League have outfitted their personal cars and trucks with AcuRite 5-in-1 professional weather stations. In addition to offering a full range of weather measurements, these wireless weather stations allow for total portability, making them usable in a car and on-the-go. To complete their mobile weather stations, the members constructed custom sensor mounting hardware for the roofs of their vehicles, and weather station display mounts for their dashboards. This enables the “AcuRite Crew” to accurately monitor storms wherever they go.
League member Gene Kersten said their AcuRite professional weather stations are nothing short of vital to their storm chasing efforts. He explained that AcuRite 5-in-1 systems give storm chasers the ability to track wind speed, wind direction, rainfall, humidity monitoring, temperature, and barometric pressure. During a tornado watch or other storm chasing event, this information allows them to best utilize their training to predict weather patterns and provide meaningful information to the National Weather Service, local authorities, and community members. It also helps keep them safe when in close proximity to storms.
"I deploy my AcuRite weather station in conjunction with my team when storms are predicted," Kersten said. "During storm spotting and chasing, weather conditions can change, rapidly becoming severe. Our AcuRite weather stations help us keep abreast of changes. The stations also help us predict the weather as we strive, as a team working together, to keep the public safe in storms."
When not chasing storms, Kersten enjoys competing in regional amateur auto racing events. Since weather significantly affects auto racing, his fellow racers and local racetracks have tapped into Kersten’s ability to monitor and predict atmospheric conditions.
"In racing, the weather affects how race cars perform," Kersten said. "Knowing humidity, temperature, and wind conditions help us set the cars up to race. Keeping an eye on approaching storms is also very important for keeping (racers and spectators) safe. My AcuRite weather station is pivotal for doing this."
How to Become a Storm Spotter
Trained storm spotters provide vital information to the National Weather Service (NWS). The NWS is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and keeps local authorities and the general public informed during severe weather. While in the field, storm chasers can relay weather information to the NWS in a variety of means, including calling in by phone and/or tweeting updates to the NWS Twitter feed. These tweets might include photos with GPS coordinates. In addition, storm chasers can post updates to Skywarn, to the “Spotter Network” on RadarScope, as well as websites and social media pages maintained by local and regional storm chaser organizations.
If you would like to learn more about storm spotting or receive training to become one yourself, a good place to start is Skywarn. Skywarn is a volunteer program, established by NOAA, with nearly 290,000 trained severe weather spotters.
The Midwest Storm Spotters League also suggests attending an in-person spotter training class in your area or completing online spotter training via MetEd.
It's the most important tool I have in my storm chasing arsenal. It's a must have and my team highly recommends it.