In times of severe weather, your reports will become invaluable to providing "ground truth" and conditions in your community.
Any significant reports (damage, sightings etc) you pass along to the First Alert Weather Team are immediately passed to the National Weather Service. These reports can help in verification, issuance of warnings, or potentially life saving information to folks in the path of dangerous weather.
If you think it's important, it probably is. The more detail and information you can provide, the better. But here are a few guidelines.
Location : Be as specific as possible. County, city and street are all important! An actual address or intersection is better. Remember, some roads are very long! Saying Highway 17 gives no indication of where something occurred.
Time/Duration : Try and give as specific a time of the event as you can (if possible). The duration can also be important for hail or wintry precipitation.
Rain : Rainfall totals, duration and intensity of rain
Flooding : Streets closed? How much water is covering road? Is it impassable? Trees/limbs down : How big are the limbs or trees? Were they healthy trees? What type of tree?
Hail : Size of hail (Use standardized descriptors (dime size, quarter size, golf ball size). Do not say marble-sized hail (marbles can be all kinds of different sizes!). Winds : If you have a wind instrument that gives you numbers GREAT! Unless you are a pro at wind estimates, leave it to the sensors.
Structural Damage : Be specific on location and severity. Was it an old structure? Or fairly new?
Winter Weather : For snow, sleet and freezing rain, start and end times are important. Also, any change between precipitation type. Of course, depth of snow or sleet is desired.
The National Weather Service offers severe weather storm spotting training sessions at various times throughout the year (mainly in Spring). These sessions can help to fine tune your spotting skills. They also have programs like CoCoRaHS if you enjoy reporting rainfall or snowfall from your home weather station.