Jessica Mathews /

From storm clouds to sunshine, a local teen has been infatuated with the weather since he was old enough to look up.

The forecast isn’t always picture perfect and when the weather turns for the worst, 16-year-old Brayden Sebra of Hamburg Township is among those trained to provide critical information to keep communities safe.

SKYWARN® is a volunteer program with between 350,000 and 400,000 trained severe weather spotters. Those volunteers help keep their local communities safe by providing timely and accurate reports of severe weather to the National Weather Service.

Among the local storm spotters now is Brayden, who is on the autism spectrum and a longtime weather enthusiast. He completed a training program in March held at the Hamburg Township Fire Department Station 11. The class was packed and standing room only.

There have been increasing tornadoes and severe weather events statewide – as evidenced by the four twisters that ripped through Southwest Michigan last Tuesday and left a huge path of destruction. Homes and buildings were destroyed, trees were snapped in half and uprooted, and thousands were without power.

With severe weather events becoming more frequent, it’s all the more important to train the next generation of spotters.

The SKYWARN classes are free and open to the public but participants must be at least 13-years-old to report. During times of severe weather, Brayden calls in to make reports to the NWS Spotter Hotline.
Brayden has always been drawn to weather but especially storms and lightning. When asked what his favorite part of the training was, he replied “all of it” – saying “it’s so exciting and makes his energy levels go up”.

Brayden said he looks to the sky to assess the weather and the calls a hotline to report any damaging winds, potential tornadic storm clouds, hail, and any damage.

Among many things, Brayden said he learned to report wind gusts up to 40mph, 1 ½ inch hail or bigger, rotating storm clouds that could spurn potential tornadoes, as well as storm damage. Brayden pointed out he already knew about outdoor weather sirens and when and how to take cover but did learn that tornadoes don’t automatically touch down really fast.
Brayden encouraged people to get involved and take one of the SKYWARN training classes, which are offered annually, usually ahead of severe weather season.

Sarah Hanson is Brayden’s mother and said her son has enjoyed everything about the weather for a long time and is always excited by storms and like to fall asleep to thunderstorms at night. After the training, Hanson said she thinks he understands a lot more about the clouds and movement, which is important to watch.

Hanson said a friend of theirs who is a firefighter told them about the class. She said it’s really fun and thinks anyone interested in learning more about weather should attend and also consider getting a NOAA weather radio for alerts. Hanson added there are also a lot of really simple at-home things that parents can do to teach their kids about the weather and learn about themselves.

More information about the SKYWARN program is available in the provided link.