Updated to include information on a new, third COMET module
Below is a message from Dr. Tim Spangler, Director of the Cooperative Program for Operational Meteorology, Education and Training (COMET®) concerning the availability of a new on-line, educational resource for severe weather spotters. In 1989 the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) and the National Weather Service (NWS) established COMET® to promote a better understanding of mesoscale meteorology and to maximize the benefits of new weather technologies.
The COMET Program is pleased to announce the publication of "Weather Radar Fundamentals." This 2-hour module is intended as an introduction to the basic principles of Doppler weather radar operation and interpretation. It can also serve as a refresher for more experienced users. In addition to discussing the science behind radars, the module provides examples and practice exercises for interpreting reflectivity and velocity products for a variety of fair weather and precipitating weather situations.
Please follow this link to the MetEd description page that provides additional information and a link to begin the module: Weather Radar Fundamentals.
We welcome any comments or questions you may have regarding the content, instructional approach, or use of this module. Please e-mail your comments or questions to Vickie Johnson (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Severe Weather Spotters in the South-central and Southeast Wisconsin Counties serviced by the Milwaukee/Sullivan NWS Office are encouraged to complete the new COMET® on-line courses.
The three on-line COMET® courses will be followed by other modules in the future, pending funding. Future modules will cover winter weather & flooding, and hurricanes & tsunamis. The overarching spotter training plan is to create a suite of modules that address numerous hazards that will make this training course our standard nationwide
Ultimately, the COMET® severe weather spotter program will lead to a registration/certificate process and a national database portal. Currently these features are not operational.
Since the national database portal in not operational, for the time being, you are encouraged to attend one of our Beginner-Intermediate severe weather spotter classes conducted in March or April of each year.
After you have attended our free, two-hour severe weather class, your name/address will be entered into our local spotter database. Additionally, during the spotter class you will be given a telephone number to call our office with severe weather reports.
I don't hand out certificates or assign spotter numbers to severe weather spotters. You are considered to be certified when your name/address is entered into our local database. Just prior to our spotter class you can provide your name and address on a sign-up sheet. Bring a mailing address-label to the class to speed up the sign-in process.
How many spotter classes should you attend? As many as you can over the years until you thoroughly understand what you need to report and how to identify certain cloud features. Some spotters said their "light-bulb" finally turned on after the 6th, or even 10th spotter class! It boils down to this - how good of a spotter do you want to be? Practice makes perfect.
Additional spotter training material, consisting of four slide sets, can be found on the Milwaukee/Sullivan web site on the SkyWarn page. All severe weather spotters are encouraged to review the four slide sets. They take a few minutes to download.
Severe weather spotters should read the document describing the Scary-Looking Cloud Club. If you understand the message within the document you will be less likely to make a mistake and submit a false report.
You can download a print a copy of the new Skywarn Weather Spotter Guide via this LINK.
The Milwaukee/Sullivan NWS office has conducted on-site (in-person) severe weather spotter classes in all 20 counties it services for many years. However, technology has improved tremendously over the past few years. Consequently, starting in March and April, 2012, we will not conduct on-site (in-person) severe weather spotter classes in all 20 counties. We intend to utilize our GoToWebinar capabilities and conduct many classes remotely from our office. You would go to a pre-determined meeting room and view the spotter slide sets remotely and hear our voice via a conference speaker-phone. We will provide more information during the upcoming winter season. Members from the Milwaukee SkyWarn Association (MASA) and the MidWest Severe Storm Tracking/Response Center (MidWest SSTRC) will conduct "in-person" spotter classes when NWS personnel are unable to.
Rusty Kapela, Warning Coordination Meteorologist, email@example.com