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Monday, May 20, 2013

Skywarn


The effects of severe weather are felt every year by many Americans. To obtain critical weather information, NOAA's National Weather Service (NWS), part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, established SKYWARN with partner organizations. SKYWARN is a volunteer program with nearly 290,000 trained severe weather spotters. These volunteers help keep their local communities safe by providing timely and accurate reports of severe weather to the National Weather Service. Although SKYWARN spotters provide essential information for all types of weather hazards, the main responsibility of a SKYWARN spotter is to identify and describe severe local storms. In the average year, 10,000 severe thunderstorms, 5,000 floods and more than 1,000 tornadoes occur across the United States. These events threatened lives and property. Since the program started in the 1970s, the information provided by SKYWARN spotters, coupled with Doppler radar technology, improved satellite and other data, has enabled NWS to issue more timely and accurate warnings for tornadoes, severe thunderstorms and flash floods.
SKYWARN storm spotters are part of the ranks of citizens who form the Nation's first line of defense against severe weather. There can be no finer reward than to know that their efforts have given communities the precious gift of time--seconds and minutes that can help save lives. While the main role of a storm spotter is to be their community's first line of defense against dangerous storms, they also provide important information to NWS warning forecasters who make critical warning decisions. Storm spotters play a critical role because they can see things that radar and other technological tools cannot, and this ground truth is critical in helping the NWS perform our primary mission, to save lives and property.

Steps to Becoming A Skywarn Spotter:

The National Weather Service encourages anyone with an interest in public service and access to communication, such HAM radio, to join the SKYWARN program. Volunteers include police and fire personnel, dispatchers, EMS workers, public utility workers and other concerned private citizens. Individuals affiliated with hospitals, schools, churches, nursing homes or who have a responsibility for protecting others are also encouraged to become a spotter.
  1. Complete the 2 Online National Skywarn Training Modules.
    The courses are “The Role of the Skywarn Spotter” and “Skywarn Spotter Convective Basics”. The courses will require you to register with the Meted Training Site.

  2. Complete the 5 NWS Norman Skywarn Modules.
    These are still being developed, but will be linked here when completed.

  3. Attend one of our live Skywarn training sessions
    or alternatively, attend one of our online GoToMeeting webinar training sessions. See our training schedule.

  4. Register with the Spotter Network or eSpotter.
    This is not required, but doing this will allow NWS Norman to be able to contact you for reports and information, and will provide you with another method of contacting us.

  5. Contact the local or county Emergency Management Coordinator (EMC) in your area.
    Your local and county officials can provide additional information about how spotter groups are organized in your community. Many spotter groups in the small communities in West Texas are led by local volunteer firefighters with assistance from law enforcement, amateur radio operators, and other community volunteers such as CERT volunteers.


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