Skywarn is the National Weather Service (NWS) program of trained volunteer severe weather spotters. Skywarn volunteers support their local community and government by providing the NWS with timely and accurate severe weather reports. These reports, when integrated with modern NWS technology, are used to inform communities of the proper actions to take as severe weather threatens.
Skywarn, formed in the early 1970’s, has historically provided critical severe weather information to the NWS in time to get the appropriate warnings issued . Thus the key focus of the Skywarn program is to save lives and property through the use of the observations and reports of trained volunteers. Despite our elaborate radar and forecasting equipment here at the National Weather Service, we are only able to determine the potential for severe weather. We rely on reports from the public and law enforcement personnel and the actual severe weather. Accurate and reliable information from the general public is difficult to obtain. Severe weather is complicated and confusing.
The NWS has found that only regular training of weather spotters improves the quality of information we receive. Trained Skywarn observers provide the Weather Service with accurate, and timely reports from radio equipped cars and homes. The NWS is most interested in severe weather reports. Severe weather includes flash flooding, hail, damaging winds, and tornadoes. If the NWS confirms severe weather with radar and other available information, it then notifies local authorities who then can activate Civil Defense sirens. The news media receives notification so they can make reports on local broadcast stations.Skywarn volunteers donate thousands of hours and the use of their own personal radio equipment and vehicles to give their communities advanced warning of life threatening weather. Since the NWS instituted the Skywarn Program, there has been a significant decrease in the death rate due to tornadoes and other severe weather. Excerpts from: Gropper, Daniel R. Skywarn Net Control Operations Manual, Washington, DC, 1993
There will be a Skywarn Training class on Tuesday March 17, 2009 at 6:00 p.m. at the EMS training classroom. For more information or to sign up for the class, please contact Marsha Hardy at 372-8570.