ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — It’s not too soon to start preparing for the winter weather. Volunteers from our area trained on how to be Winter Weather Spotters Wednesday night.

The Skywarn program has been around for over 50 years, and operates across the country. In Western New York, the National Weather Service needs folks who can help relay information about winter storms, so the Buffalo office held a free training seminar.

Skywarn spotters support the local community and government by providing reports directly to the National Weather Service. There’s an actual spotter hotline that these trained volunteers will use to assist the NWS.

Participants also got some practical reminders.

“The biggest thing is to prepare for winter,” said NWS Senior Forecaster Jon Hitchcock. “It’s right around the corner now, so that’s what we’re doing tonight, we’re thinking about winter weather that’s about to move into the area. Have a safety kit in your car, so extra clothing, extra blankets, a little extra food and water, anything you might need in case you get stuck in the snow, so now is the time to start thinking about that.”

Volunteers also got lessons on how to properly measure snow when reporting to the weather service and learned about ice storms, lake effect snow and larger winter storm systems.