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 chasers group, it’s the responsibility of league members to purchase their own weather instruments, storm chasing 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.
Another noteworthy feature of their wireless weather stations is AcuRite Connect, which enables an AcuRite professional weather station to feed data straight into a laptop or desktop computer via a standard USB port. Since the data can then be uploaded to a variety of websites and/or apps via the Internet, this helps the Midwest Storm Spotters League members share vital weather data with each other as well as with the authorities.
Specifically, the weather station display records data in 12-minute intervals. When the display is plugged into a PC, data can be downloaded as a file, which can easily be emailed and opened in a spreadsheet software such as Microsoft Excel. The data can also be sent to My AcuRite, where it can be viewed on a smart phone, tablet or PC, or the weather website Weather Underground.
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 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 helps 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."
Trained storm chasers 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 chasing, 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.
Whether or not you pursue storm chaser training, you can serve your community by feeding data from your home weather station to the NWS through their Citizen Weather Observer Program (CWOP). Visit Setting Up PWS Using CWOP for AcuRite data upload instructions and visit http://wxqa.com for more information about the program.
It's the most important tool I have in my storm chasing arsenal. It's a must have and my team highly recommends it.