Virtually every community has some form of spotter network. Often, local fire and police personnel are trained to observe and report severe weather, partly due to their extensive radio communication and 24-hour operations. Citizens may also be an active part of the spotter network, some with an avid interest in the weather and many without. Some spotters are amateur radio operators.
All share a sense of responsibility to their neighbors.
The National Weather Service is offering a chance to get involved, with free SKYWARN spotter training for Kane County residents. The Kane County Office of Emergency Management and Elgin Community College are hosting the training, set for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 22, at Elgin Community College’s Seigel Auditorium, 1700 Spartan Drive, Elgin.
What is SKYWARN®?
SKYWARN is a program sponsored by the National Weather Service. The program is made up of thousands of volunteers who attend regular training and then scan the skies of their communities identifying and reporting critical storm information. These volunteers, sometimes organized under the SKYWARN banner in the U.S., are typically trained by NWS forecasters to be the eyes and ears of both the warning forecasters and the local public safety networks.
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.
Who is Eligible?
NWS 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.
How Can I Get Involved?
NWS has 122 local Weather Forecast Offices, each with a Warning Coordination Meteorologist, who is responsible for administering the SKYWARN® program in their local area. Training is free and typically last about two hours. You’ll learn:
- Basics of thunderstorm development
- Fundamentals of storm structure
- Identifying potential severe weather features
- Information to report
- How to report information
- Basic severe weather safety
SKYWARN® is a registered trademark of NOAA’s National Weather Service. Rules for the usage of the SKYWARN® name and logo are available here.
SOURCE: National Weather Service and Kane County Office of Emergency Management