SKYWARN spotters keep a close eye on the sky anytime severe thunderstorms approach. Many communities deploy spotters around the edge of the city and use their early reports of impending hazardous weather to warn the community. Some spotters relay reports from their home or business while other more adventurous volunteers brave the elements and try to get as close to the storm as possible.
|Ham radio operators collecting storm reports from SKYWARN storm spotters in the field. Picture courtesy NWS.|
How can you get involved? There are a couple of ways. You can attend a storm spotter training class to become a trained spotter. Each session is free, lasts about 90 minutes and covers basics of thunderstorm development, fundamentals of storm structure, identifying potential severe weather features and (more importantly perhaps) severe weather look-a-likes, what and how to report, and basic severe weather safety. Upcoming class details can be found here and you can learn more about the SKYWARN program from the NWS here.
There are a couple of ways to get SKYWARN spotter training locally. First, you can watch an online training session that was conducted by the National Weather Service in Memphis. There is also an online spotter training course that is available with a free registration. Finally, a class taught in person by NWS-Memphis will take place on Tuesday, March 22, at 7:00pm at Lord of Life Lutheran Church on Poplar Pike in East Memphis. 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. The classes are free and open to the public, including teens and older elementary children who enjoy attending with their parents.
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