EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS FOR OUR COMMUNITIES
NWS SKYWARN PROGRAM
The SKYWARN program is a partnership between the National Weather Service (NWS) and the community. It was formed in the early 1970's after major tornado outbreaks ravaged many areas, with its chief aim being to reduce the threat to our communities from severe weather.
The key element of the program is a network of volunteer non-NWS personnel ("storm spotters") who relay reports of severe weather to the NWS. Even with today's new technology at our disposal, only one instrument can detect severe weather phenomena directly with absolute certainty, the human eye. A large network of spotters can be a great benefit to the NWS warning program. The basis for, and/or verification of, many severe weather warnings, issued by the NWS, may be directly attributed to SKYWARN storm spotters. Their reports are considered highly credible by NWS personnel, and are regarded highly. They assist the NWS in performing our top mission, which is to prepare and distribute warnings and forecasts of impending severe weather. SKYWARN Storm Spotters help to provide the citizens of their community with potentially life-saving information. We realize that members of this elite group are volunteering their time and effort to provide this invaluable service. Their efforts are greatly appreciated.
Many NWS spotters are also amateur radio operators. This dual role can be helpful, especially during a major storm such as a hurricane, when phone and power lines are down and amateur radio may become the primary means of communications.
While there are no specific requirements, it is preferred that Skywarn volunteers are reachable in the event that something suspicious is happening in the skies in their area. It must also be stressed that we are looking for reliable and objective reports. When wind speed or hail size is exaggerated, for example, it can do more harm than good.