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National Weather Service Skywarn classes all online this year


There has been very few things that have not been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and this includes the National Weather Service. Every year, the NWS hosts multiple "Skywarn" classes, usually in many different places in schools, fire departments, etc. In 2020, the NWS only held a couple of these classes before being forced to cancel them.

This year, however, the National Weather Service is equipped with the ability to host these classes virtually. Two different offices serve Western Wisconsin: NWS La Crosse and NWS Twin Cities.

NWS La Crosse area includes Buffalo, Clark, Jackson, Taylor, and Trempealeau counties. If you live in these counties, you can sign up for one of the classes at

NWS Twin Cities covers Barron, Chippewa, Dunn, Eau Claire, Pepin, Pierce, Polk, Rusk, and St. Croix counties. If you live in these counties, you are eligible to sign up for one of the Twin Cities classes. You can sign up for one of these classes at

Severe weather spotters are important to the NWS because there's only so much that the radar can detect. Even where radar detects rotation, spotter reports add a lot of confidence in a warning, and can even change the phrasing of the warning from "radar indicated rotation capable of producing a tornado" to "spotter confirmed tornado". Obviously, the latter is more likely to cause people to take seriously.

However, Stormtracker 18 Meteorologists say this is a great class for not only anyone looking to become a trained weather spotter, but also for anyone who is scared of severe weather and thunderstorms as this class can give you a better understanding of how they work and where to stay up to date with warnings.

Matt Schaefer

Matt Schaefer was promoted to Chief Meteorologist in July of 2019 and has been our evening meteorologist for News 18 since June of 2016. Prior to that, he was our Saturday meteorologist starting in September 2014.

Matt was born and raised in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. He enjoys all the extremes that mother nature throws at the Badger State: from severe thunderstorms to blizzards to subzero temperatures.

Matt studied meteorology in the Midwest as well, earning his Bachelor’s of Science in Meteorology at Valparaiso University in Indiana. There, Matt was heavily involved in VUTV Weather, the Valpo student chapter of AMS/NWA, and VUSIT (Valparaiso University Storm Intercept Team). He’s logged more than 20,000 miles chasing and studying severe storms all across the country and witnessed nine tornadoes including six in one day!

Matt describes himself as a Wisconsin boy at heart and enjoys cheering for the Packers, Brewers, Badgers, and Admirals just to name a few. He loves simply being outdoors and enjoys the Wisconsin wilderness especially in fall, and whitetail deer season!

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