What is SKYWARN®?


 

The effects of severe weather are felt every year by many Americans. To obtain critical weather information, NOAA's National Weather Service (NWS), part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, established SKYWARN® with partner organizations. SKYWARN® is a volunteer program with nearly 290,000 trained severe weather spotters. These volunteers help keep their local communities safe by providing timely and accurate reports of severe weather to the National Weather Service.

Although SKYWARN® spotters provide essential information for all types of weather hazards, the main responsibility of a SKYWARN® spotter is to identify and describe severe local storms. In the average year, 10,000 severe thunderstorms, 5,000 floods and more than 1,000 tornadoes occur across the United States. These events threatened lives and property.

Since the program started in the 1970s, the information provided by SKYWARN® spotters, coupled with Doppler radar technology, improved satellite and other data, has enabled NWS to issue more timely and accurate warnings for tornadoes, severe thunderstorms and flash floods.

SKYWARN® storm spotters are part of the ranks of citizens who form the Nation's first line of defense against severe weather. There can be no finer reward than to know that their efforts have given communities the precious gift of time--seconds and minutes that can help save lives.

Who is Eligible?

NWS encourages anyone with an interest in public service and access to communication, such HAM radio, to join the SKYWARN® program. Volunteers include police and fire personnel, dispatchers, EMS workers, public utility workers and other concerned private citizens. Individuals affiliated with hospitals, schools, churches, nursing homes or who have a responsibility for protecting others are also encouraged to become a spotter.

How Can I Get Involved?

NWS has 122 local Weather Forecast Offices, each with a Warning Coordination Meteorologist, who is responsible for administering the SKYWARN® program in their local area. Training is conducted at these local offices and covers:

  • Basics of thunderstorm development
  • Fundamentals of storm structure
  • Identifying potential severe weather features
  • Information to report
  • How to report information
  • Basic severe weather safety

Classes are free and typically are about two hours long. To find out when a SKYWARN® class in western and north central Nebraska contact Teresa Keck at 308-532-4936 X726 or email. For other areas, contact your local Warning Coordination Meteorologist at: http://www.stormready.noaa.gov/contact.htm

 

Amateur Radio Networks 

Amateur radio operators are a vital part of the National Weather Service severe weather warning program because they provide a fast response capability without reliance on telephones. At this time, only a few radio networks have been established across western and north-central Nebraska There is, however,  interest in expanding amateur radio networks across the area, which would provide an increase in contacts to relay severe weather reports. 

Amateur Radio Clubs

  • The North Platte Progressive Amateur Radio Club (freq. 146.700 hz) 

When a threat exists for severe weather in Lincoln County the North Platte Progressive Amateur Radio Club provides a ham radio operator at the National Weather Service Office in North Platte. This allows a direct connection between the office and club members dispatched within Lincoln County, who then relay observed conditions from storms. If you are interested in learning more about the Lincoln County Amateur Radio Club, contact Kevin Curtis (K0KDC) at  k0kdc@q.com. Kevin is Lincoln County Emergency Coordinator.

Additional links of interest -


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