Severe Weather Awareness 2013: SKYWARN Storm Spotters & #mSpotter

SKYWARN IS A PROGRAM DEVELOPED BY THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TO RECRUIT AND TRAIN STORM SPOTTERS. SKYWARN SPOTTERS ENHANCE THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE STORM DETECTION CAPABILITIES BY IDENTIFYING AND REPORTING POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS WEATHER CONDITIONS. THE SKYWARN PROGRAM HAS BECOME AN INVALUABLE LINK IN THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE WARNING PROCESS.

DESPITE ALL THE SOPHISTICATED TECHNOLOGY USED IN A MODERN NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE OFFICE… FORECASTERS STILL RELY ON STORM SPOTTERS. DOPPLER RADAR MAY INDICATE THAT A STORM MAY BE PRODUCING LARGE HAIL… DAMAGING WINDS… OR EVEN A TORNADO… BUT IT CANNOT TELL EXACTLY WHAT IS HAPPENING ON THE GROUND UNDERNEATH THE STORM. STORM SPOTTERS… TRAINED BY NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE METEOROLOGISTS… ACT AS THE EYES AND EARS OF THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE. THEIR REPORTS… RADAR DATA… AND OTHER INFORMATION RESULT IN THE MOST TIMELY AND ACCURATE WARNINGS POSSIBLE.

SKYWARN SPOTTERS COME FROM ALL WALKS OF LIFE – LAW ENFORCEMENT… FIRE OR EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCIES… AND CITIZENS INTERESTED IN HELPING THEIR COMMUNITIES. A LARGE NUMBER OF STORM SPOTTERS ARE AMATEUR RADIO OPERATORS WHO VOLUNTEER THEIR TIME AND EQUIPMENT TO HELP THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DETECT AND TRACK SEVERE STORMS.

AMATEUR RADIO OPERATORS WILL FREQUENTLY OPERATE RADIO EQUIPMENT AT THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE OFFICE… GATHERING REPORTS FROM SPOTTERS IN THE FIELD AND RELAYING THE DATA DIRECTLY TO NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE FORECASTERS. SKYWARN SPOTTERS ARE VOLUNTEERS… THEY RECEIVE NO COMPENSATION FOR THEIR HARD WORK. THEY DO… HOWEVER… HAVE THE SATISFACTION OF KNOWING THAT THEIR REPORTS RESULT IN BETTER WARNINGS WHICH SAVE LIVES.

WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO BE A SPOTTER? THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE ENCOURAGES ANYONE WITH AN INTEREST IN PUBLIC SERVICE AND ACCESS TO COMMUNICATION… SUCH AS AMATEUR RADIO… TO JOIN THE SKYWARN PROGRAM. VOLUNTEERS INCLUDE POLICE AND FIRE PERSONNEL… DISPATCHERS… EMS… 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.

HOW CAN YOU GET INVOLVED? YOU CAN PARTICIPATE IN THE SKYWARN PROGRAM  BY ATTENDING A STORM SPOTTER TRAINING CLASS TO BECOME A TRAINED SPOTTER. EACH OF THE TRAINING SESSIONS IS FREE… LAST AROUND TWO HOURS… AND COVERS THE FOLLOWING CONCEPTS: BASICS OF THUNDERSTORM DEVELOPMENT… FUNDAMENTALS OF STORM STRUCTURE… IDENTIFYING POTENTIAL SEVERE WEATHER FEATURES… WHAT INFORMATION TO REPORT… HOW TO REPORT… AND BASIC SEVERE WEATHER SAFETY.

In addition to SKYWARN, Memphians can use the power and immediacy of Twitter to report severe weather.  Just send a tweet of what you see with the #mSpotter hashtag and the report will be passed directly on to NWS-Memphis meteorologists. The best reports include a geo-tagged tweet and picture of the severe weather (storm damage, hail, funnel/tornado, or even winter weather). For more information on this valuable program, visit the MWN #mSpotter page (mobile link) or join our Google+ Hangout for a training session on Tuesday night at 8:30pm.

The annual Memphis SKYWARN spotter training class, which is free and open to the public, will be taught by the National Weather Service on Tuesday, March 26, at 6:30pm at Lord of Life Lutheran on Poplar Pike near Kirby Parkway.  All current SKYWARN volunteers should attend as a refresher, while new volunteers are strongly encouraged to attend and learn how to be a spotter, what to look for, and how to report.

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MWN’s Severe Weather Awareness Week Page has details on all of our SWAW activities

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