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Storm Spotters

Storm spotters are trained weather observers who relay important information about storms that radar can not.
Storm spotters are trained weather observers who relay important information
about storms that radar can not.

Rick Smith, Warning Coordination Meteorologist from the National Weather Service
(NWS) in Norman explains.

"They are our eyes and ears. The weather service and the TV stations have lots
of cool technology. Radars and Doppler radars or dual pol radar but, none of that
can really tell us for sure what's going on at the ground."

Storm spotters also relay important information to local emergency management
officials.

Lee Bourgoin, Wichita County Emergency Management Coordinator, relies heavily
on storm spotter information during severe weather events.

"We work hand in hand with storm spotters. And we couldn't do it without them.
That's probably the most viable and useful organization in north Texas especially
in Wichita county."

Storm spotters use ham radios to communicate observations to emergency
coordinators and important information should disaster strike.

"The guys in the field relay the information to whoever the net controller is.
Then if they are in a different place than I am, I'm Listening to that traffic.
I'm getting the same reports that everybody else is. I'm feeding that to the first
responders in the field,” says Bourgoin.

So how can you become a certified storm spotter?

It's through the SKYWARN volunteer program established by the NWS.

Storm spotter training classes are held every spring in coordination with the
NWS and local emergency management officials.

You must:
Complete 2 SKYWARN training modules online
Review basic spotter training modules
And attend regional training sessions or participate in a spotter training webinar

Classes cover everything from basics of thunderstorm development, storm structure,
what kind of information to report and how to report it.

So who can become a storm spotter?

NWS says those with an interest in public service and access to communication,
such ham radio, to join the SKYWARN program.

For more information about the SKYWARN program click here 

For information on classes and webinars from the Norman Forecast Office click here

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