As the convective, severe weather season winds down, the staff at the Milwaukee/Sullivan National Weather Service Forecast (NWS) Office wishes to extend a big THANKS to all severe weather spotters for their volunteer efforts! Simply said, we couldn't complete our mission without your help. Our main mission is to issue severe weather forecasts and warnings that minimize the loss of life and property.
Spotter reports are needed to verify what the NWS's WSR-88D Doppler radar system sees or doesn't see. Spotters provide ground-truth or cloud-base information that increases the meteorologist's confidence to issue a severe weather warning or not issue a warning. Early spotter reports may trigger a severe weather warning, while other reports verifiy what has happened after the warning was issued.
Severe weather spotters come from all walks of life - from teenagers to grandparents, and are employed in just about every type of job. Some do it individually, while others are part of a local organization. Some spotters are members of amateur radio clubs, or other county-based groups. Some spotters are members of law enforcement agencies while others belong to fire departments or other first-responder groups. Whether as individuals or in groups - spotters all share a common bond - spotting in the spirit of public safety! Additionally, amateur radio operators reported to the Milwaukee/Sullivan NWS office during every severe weather event, and volunteered many hours in retreiving spotter reports via their radios.
The 2008 severe weather season in the Milwaukee/Sullivan County Warning Area was an odd one - we started off with 2 tornadoes in Walworth and Kenosha counties on January 7th, of all days. Then a couple of tornadoes spun up on April 25th in Columbia County. May was relatively quiet. June was extremely busy - many severe storms with strong winds and large hail, 18 tornadoes, and record-setting rains that led to new, all-time, record crests on many rivers. It was so busy in June that the Milwaukee/Sullvian staff composed an incredible 2041 non-routine warnings, statements, and forecasts! Things slowed down in July - a few more rounds of severe weather, but only 4 tornadoes. August had only a few rounds of severe weather, but no tornadoes and no floods. Nothing happened in September.
The Milwaukee/Sullivan NWS staff issued 179 storm-based (polygon) warnings for severe storms that produced tornadoes, damaging, straight-line winds, or large hail. We documented 227 single severe weather events. In the water department, we issued 49 flash flood warnings for 44 flood or flash flood events.
Severe weather spotters - THANKS - give yourself a pat on the back!