Weather service to train storm spotters in three states

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MPR Photo/ Elizabeth Baier

Blue tarps blanketed roofs and sheets of plywood covered broken windows in neighborhoods and communities around Minnesota in 2010, a record year for tornadoes in the state.

In all, 104 tornadoes touched ground in Minnesota in 2010.

Now, officials with the National Weather Service in La Crosse are looking for a few good volunteers to help spot some of that severe weather when it hits this year.

The weather service recently released the Severe Weather Spotter Training Schedule for 2011.

Training sessions will be held across starting March 10. Minnesota locations include Austin, Rochester, St. Charles and Stewartville. Wisconsin training will take place in Fort McCoy, Arcadia, Medford and La Crosse. In Iowa, sessions will be held in Monona, Fayette and Osage.

The weather service relies on volunteer storm spotters to report severe weather, including tornadoes and flooding.

Spotters are typically volunteer fire fighters, police officers and amateur radio operators, but individual spotters can still participate.

The service says spotters are vital in reporting severe weather, especially in spring and summer months when activity picks up.

In the past 11 years, Minnesota has seen an average 48 tornadoes per year. The top two tornado years on record in the past decade.

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