This program immediately caught my eye because of the frequency of
In most years, thunderstorms, tornadoes and lightening cause damage and threaten lives for all that lies within the path of these often severe weather phenomenon. When learning of a new STEM program that involves citizens and it is about weather, the first thing I thought about was the opportunity to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. This represents the best of volunteerism, as the focus is on saving lives. It calls for the participants to be ever mindful of what lays ahead by constantly surveying the surroundings, specifically, the atmosphere-the weather.Storms that occur in and around the U.S., create so much incredible harm to citizens, communities and cities, and potentially devastate lives.
The next thing that I thought about, probably should be first in all honesty. That’s because this innovative program, around since the 1970’s, comes from the genius of the National Weather Service[NWS]. NWS receives much of its weather and storm-related information from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration[NOAA], which holds great significance to me. This is because my daughter, a former Air Force Pilot and Instructor Pilot, transitioned her service-related duties, as a Lieutenant Commander, and is now a “Hurricane Hunter” with NOAA. She is a ‘storm spotter‘ of a different kind, collecting data, tracking and projecting storm and hurricane activity from 35,000ft. above our oceans.
Because thunderstorms, thunder and lightening and tornadoes cause hundreds of injuries and deaths and billions in property and crop damage, there is an urgent need to create ways to spot, track, warn and proactively prevent maximum damage. Thus, the National Weather Service[NWS] established SKYWARN®[registered name] with its partner organizations.
With between 350,00 and 400,000 trained severe weather spotters, they keep us safe by providing timely and accurate reports of severe weather to the NWS. Although these weather spotters report valuable information for all types of weather hazards, the focus is reporting on severe local thunderstorms. The U.S. experiences more than 10,000 severe thunderstorms, 5,000 floods and more than 1,000 tornadoes during an average year. We need these people on the ground, with their eyes open.
Coupled with Doplar radar technology, the information provided by SKYWARN® spotters, enables NWS to issue more timely and accurate warnings for tornadoes, severe thunderstorms and flash floods. This group forms the nation’s first line of defense against severe weather, providing families and communities the gift of time. Minutes can save lives.
Who’s eligible to be a Storm Spotter?
NWS encourages anyone with an interest in public service to join the program. Volunteers include police and fire personnel, dispatchers, EMS workers, public utility workers and other private citizens. Those affiliated with hospitals, schools, churches and nursing homes who have a responsibility for protecting folk are encouraged to apply.
Find a class in your area. Training is free and typically lasts about 2 hours. There you’ll learn:
- Fundamentals of storm structure
- Basics of thunderstorm development
- Identifying potential severe weather features
- Information to report
- How to report information and
- Basic severe weather safety.
Looking for an online training program? You can take the online spotter program. It is free, as well. Be a part of the much-needed solutions!
SKYWARN® name and logo are trademarked: SKYWARN® is a registered trademark of NOAA’s National Weather Service.