The National Weather Service and the Fairfield County Emergency Management Agency are once again recruiting people to serve as the region's eyes and ears for dangerous weather patterns.

The National Weather Service and the Fairfield County Emergency Management Agency are once again recruiting people to serve as the region's eyes and ears for dangerous weather patterns.

Trained "weather spotters" are the first people to inform the NWS when dangerous or potentially dangerous weather patterns and storms hit the local community.

They do so by learning how to safely observe storms, identify important storm features and spot visual clues that may precede tornado development, as well as how to make accurate and timely reports to the NWS.

On March 21, NWS officials will provide a free course from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Fairfield County Liberty Center, 951 Liberty Center Drive, Lancaster, to teach each of these facets of weather spotting.

Registration for the class is open to those interested in becoming a weather spotter who reports potentially dangerous storm patterns to the NWS, or who just want to learn the ins and outs of weather spotting to protect themselves, their families or property.

"It's the same program the National Weather Service provides across the state of Ohio," said Jon Kochis, Fairfield County EMA director. "The more people who participate, the better. The more people who are trained to spot storms really leads to safer communities."

The weather spotter course will be led by meteorologists from the National Weather Service, Kochis said.

Participants then will receive a number to call whenever they see potentially dangerous weather patterns entering their areas. The NWS uses the information to determine if local alerts should go out to the county EMA and media outlets.

"Everyone who attends and completes the class is at least trained to be a spotter for their own home or to alert their neighbors when dangerous storms hit," Kochis said.

Those wishing to register for the class can do so online at www.fairfieldema.com/training or by calling the Fairfield County EMA at (740) 654-4357.

"It's definitely good to register early," Kochis said. "We won't turn anyone away, but we do get a large response from the amateur radio community and a lot of our first-responders take the class."