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What is Skywarn?
SKYWARN or the National Skywarn Storm Spotter Program is a volunteer organization made up of trained and certified members who spot severe weather for their local communities in an effort to help increase warning times and save lives. SKYWARN storm spotters consists of volunteers of ages from all over the United States of America. SKYWARN storm spotters made their reports to the National Weather Service (NWS) agency that holds jurisdiction within their weather forecast area. Other spotter reports might be made via amateur radio, local emergency management and other local public safety departments. Storm spotter training is free and training is provided each year at many locations near most NWS Weather Forecast Offices.
Why do Storm Spotters exist?
SKYWARN Storm Spotters exist because of the growing need for better warning system for a community. NWS radar and forecasting instrumentation is advanced and can see and predict many weather events. However, radar and other instruments do not always see events and cannot confirm if an actual severe weather event is occurring, such as a tornado on the ground doing damage or threatening a community. This is where SKYWARN storm spotters come into play - these dedicated and trained volunteers spot incoming storms from a safe distance and confirm what type of severe weather is occurring to provide that extra 'backbone' to the severe weather warning system.
Who can become a SKYWARN Storm Spotter>
SKYWARN is a volunteer organization made up of more than 250,000 trained storm spotters. SKYWARN storm spotters come from all ages, genders, races, cultures, professions and interests. SKYWARN is for anyone looking to volunteer with interests in participating in public services and with access to communication methods such as a cell phone, internet or ham radio. Many storm spotters come from fire departments, emergency management, police departments, organizations, schools and other professions. SKYWARN is even friendly for teenagers with adult guidance of course.
What SKYWARN is not!
SKYWARN is a volunteer organization made up of trained individuals who report severe weather events to help increase warning systems for their local community. SKYWARN is not a storm chasing organization though many storm spotters are also storm chasers. Please understand that storm chasing is dangerous and can be deadly and should not be done by those who are not experienced in chasing. SKYWARN is not an official staff position within the National Weather Service, NOAA or the US Department of Commerce and SKYWARN does not make volunteers designated agents of the government.