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.|
Many other groups participate in the SKYWARN program, including law enforcement agencies, fire departments, utility companies, rescue squads, and the news media. Individual citizens are also trained as spotters, and are asked to relay their reports to the National Weather Service. Spotters are a vital link in the warning process, and it is important to have as many trained spotters in each county as possible.
How can you get involved? You can attend a storm spotter training class in person or online 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. Online options include watching a training session that was conducted by the National Weather Service in Memphis in the past year or an online spotter training course that is available with a free registration.
Want to attend in person? We highly recommend it! A schedule of upcoming classes in the Mid-South can be found here. In the Memphis area, a class taught by NWS-Memphis will take place on Tuesday, March 23, 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. You can learn more about the SKYWARN program from the NWS here.
In addition to being a trained spotter, Memphians can use their social media accounts to report severe weather to the National Weather Service (@NWSMemphis) or to us (@memphisweather1)! We make sure that any and all severe weather reports we receive are sent on to the NWS. The best reports include a geo-tagged tweet and picture of the severe weather event (storm damage, hail, funnel/tornado, or even winter weather), as well as short description.
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|MWN is a NOAA Weather Ready Nation Ambassador||Meteorologist Erik Proseus is an NWA Digital Seal Holder|