The Fairfield County Emergency Management Agency and the National Weather Service are recruiting local volunteers to keep their eyes on the skies and alert others of dangerous weather conditions.

The Fairfield County Emergency Management Agency and the National Weather Service are recruiting local volunteers to keep their eyes on the skies and alert others of dangerous weather conditions.

Many people rely on the NWS, the county EMA and local meteorologists to warn them when potentially dangerous storms and other weather conditions approach their communities.

What they might not realize is those weather informants and emergency-response agencies count on local residents to keep them abreast of the latest weather patterns moving into their areas.

Currently, the Fairfield County EMA and the NWS are seeking volunteer "weather spotters." Those who sign up will take part in a March 23 training workshop hosted by NWS meteorologists who provide free training about how to safely observe and identify key features of storms, how to detect visual clues that may precede tornados and how to make accurate and timely reports to the NWS and county EMA so wider alerts can go out to the public.

"By the end of the class, you're able to identify some basics in weather spotting," said John Kochis, Fairfield County EMA director. "You're given a number to the National Weather Service to call whenever you see anything."

Those wishing to register for the free training workshop can do so by calling the Fairfield County EMA at (740) 654-4357, or by signing up online at www.fairfieldema.org/training.

The training session will be held at 6:30 p.m. March 23 the Fairfield County Liberty Center, 951 Liberty Center Drive, Lancaster.

Upon completion of training, Kochis said, weather spotters will return to their communities, where they'll observe weather patterns taking shape in their areas.

In the event of threatening weather, they'll report the information to the county EMA and the NWS.

"(The NWS) bases their forecasts and some of their current events on those storm spotters and what they relay," Kochis said.

Fairfield County and the NWS have offered weather-spotting training to residents for a number of years, Kochis said. He said up to 75 people have volunteered in past years, but his agency and the NWS are looking to recruit up to 200 local weather spotters this year.

He added that the volunteers play a vital role in their communities.

"It's just more eyes and ears following what's going on in those times of threatening weather," he said. "It also gives more people in the community an understanding of weather and the harm it can bring, as well as what they can do to prepare for it."