The eyes and ears in a storm

MORAINE, Ohio (WDTN) – A sunny afternoon can often hide the evening’s stormy potential, but when it comes to finding out what Mother Nature is up to one group is often the first to know.

Dayton SKYWARN is the go between for weather spotters, who witness what’s happening, and the National Weather Service, which can issue storm warnings based on those reports.

“We are the eyes,” says Don Parker with Dayton SKYWARN. “As we train people to be spotters we tell them you’re the eyes on the ground for the National Weather Service. The radars can only cover so much.”

Dayton SKYWARN covers 16 counties in the Miami Valley. In that area are about 800 trained weather spotters.

We wanted to know what they’re supposed to look for when it comes to storms.

“We train them to look for rolling clouds, rotating clouds,” Parker says.

They also watch for hail, high winds, heavy rains and storm damage. But some information is not helpful.

“Things we don’t want reported are lightning, auto accidents, power outages,” Parker says.

Dayton SKYWARN will be activated by the National Weather Service when storms are on the way.

Normally that happens more than 20 times a year, although last year SKYWARN was only activated 6 times.

It’s had one activation this year, the tornado in northwest Montgomery County in February. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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