An important arm of the National Weather Service’s (NWS) severe storm warning system is the network of
skilled volunteer tornado spotters. These public citizens are trained by NWS personnel via training sessions; in
the case of the Des Moines office, this includes cities in 51 counties in the center of the state of Iowa. Many of
these sites now have access to the Iowa Communication Network, and training is done using these facilities,
although some people still receive training in person. Materials used include movies and slides which are not
available after the training session for follow-up or review. This project used the present spotter training
materials as a basis for preparing web-based materials that spotters can access to review and test their
observing skills whenever they wish.
The pilot project mainly focused on 1) designing and constructing an appropriate home page, 2) scanning
slides used in the spotter training course, 3) adding appropriate annotations, and 4) designing self-assessment
methods. The materials were field tested with several spotter groups and the resulting feedback
contributed to improvements in the initial materials.