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Storm Spotter Online Training
NWS Springfield, MO

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The Prepared Spotter
 
 

Training Objectives

 

This training was designed to provide volunteer SKYWARN spotters, dispatchers, emergency management and the public in general with an understanding of:

  • The role of weather spotters for the National Weather Service. 

  • Spotter situational awareness. 

  • How to utilize National Weather Service products and services.

The Prepared Spotter

 

A spotter equipped with information is more effective. Spotters should routinely monitor NWS forecasts and outlooks. This information can prepare you for the type, timing and magnitude of coming severe weather events.

Before storm spotting, ask yourself:

  • What are the weather hazards expected?

  • Where are the hazards expected to be and come from?

  • When is hazardous weather expected to occur in my area?

  • Do NWS products, radar, and the environment match expectations?

Answering these questions will result in safer and more effective storm spotting.

 


 

Situational Awareness: A Spotter Checklist

 

An understanding of the overall situation leading up to a severe weather event can enhance the spotter’s ability to locate and determine severe weather threats. A well informed and prepared spotter is a safer and much more effective spotter.

Follow this Spotter Checklist

  • Be Alert!   -   Greater than 12 hours prior to severe weather

Monitor the following products on a routine basis to asses severe weather potential:

          - Hazardous Weather Outlook

          - Area Forecast Discussions

          - Convective Outlooks from the Storm Prediction Center

          - Severe Thunderstorm or Tornado Watch from the Storm Prediction Center

          - Weather Briefing pages from NWS Springfield

  • Get Prepared!  -  Less than 6 hours prior to severe weather

Once a watch is issued, take the following actions:

          - Monitor the graphical Spotter Outlook

          - Monitor the Severe Weather Briefing page from NWS Springfield

          - Monitor Meso-scale Discussions from the Storm Prediction Center

          - Monitor radar (radar image interpretation)

          - Monitor NOAA weather radio for warnings and statements

 

          - Be prepared to be deployed if you are with a spotter network

  • Take Action!  -  Less than 1 hour prior to severe weather

When a warning is issued take the following actions:

         - Take your spotter position

         - Monitor NOAA weather radio for warnings and statements

         - Monitor visual storm clues

         - Monitor reports from other spotters

         - Communicate your reports to the NWS

 

 


 

NWS Products and Services

NWS Springfield creates a variety of products and services that provide spotters with information essential to effective weather spotting.

 

 

Severe Weather Product Suite

A spotter should be familiar with NWS products.  These products follow a multi-tiered or "ready, set, go" concept based on certainty and timing. 

severe weather product scheme

 

  • Hazardous Weather Outlook  - "Be Alert" -  Product issued daily at 6 am and 1 pm whenever thunderstorms or other weather hazards are expected through 7 days.

    The Hazardous Weather Outlook is also issued at 8 pm anytime thunderstorms are expected during the overnight period.  Additional updates are issued as needed to update you on the potential of hazardous of severe weather.

  • Watches  - "Get Prepared" -  Conditions favorable for hazardous weather.



  • Warnings  - "Take action!"  -  Issued when hazardous or life threatening weather is imminent or in progress.



  • Severe Weather /Flash Flood Statements  - Provide an update on a storm’s location, path, and threat, along with reports from spotters.

 

Spotter Activation Outlook

 

spotter outlook graphic

This graphical Spotter Activation Outlook provides the spotter with an estimated time and location to potential activation.  This graphic provides Emergency Managers and county dispatch centers on when and where to deploy spotters.


Hazardous Weather Outlook

 

The Hazardous Weather Outlook (HWO) is issued at 6 AM and 1 PM daily for the potential of hazardous weather through 7 days.  The HWO is also issued at 8 pm anytime thunderstorms are expected during the overnight period.  Additional updates are issued as needed to update you on the potential of hazardous of severe weather.

 

A graphical representation of potential weather hazards can be found on the NWS Springfield web page. These graphics display the types and probability of severe weather anticipated for the Missouri Ozarks and extreme southeast Kansas.

 

HWO graphics

 

 

 

 

Area Forecast Discussion

 

The Area Forecast Discussion provides a much more detailed discussion on the forecasters reasoning and expectations prior to an event.  This discussion includes more technical meteorological jargon useful to spotters more familiar with meteorological terms and parameters.

 

 

Meso-Scale Discussion

The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) issues Meso-scale Discussions to describe the development or status of severe weather. The discussions provide a heads up to the potential of severe weather development over specific areas.

meso-scale discussion graphic

When conditions appear favorable for severe storms development, SPC issues a Mesoscale Discussion (MCD), normally 1 to 3 hours before issuing a weather watch or during a severe weather event to discuss storm trends.  SPC also issues MCDs for mesoscale aspects of heavy rainfall trends. MCDs provide extra lead time on severe weather development.

 

 

 

Watches

 

Watches are issued when conditions are favorable for the development of severe weather.

 

When a watch is issued spotters should check preparedness plans and review spotter procedures.  Closely monitor weather conditions and forecast when a watch is issued.

 

 

severe weather watch graphic

Watches are issued for the potential of severe thunderstorms or tornadoes  in coordination with the Storm Prediction Center in Normal OK.  Severe Thunderstorm and Tornado Watches last several hours and typically cover portions of multiple states.

 

 

Warnings

 

Severe weather warnings alert the public of imminent weather hazards so that life saving action can be taken. Warnings are issued specific counties for a duration of one hour or less.

Warnings are issued as needed to specifically inform the public what the weather hazard is, where it is located, where it is going, and when it will arrive.

The NWS issues severe weather warnings based on the following criteria:

  • Severe Thunderstorm Warnings

          Issued for storms capable of producing hail 1" in diameter or greater and/or winds

          of 58 mph (50 kts) or greater

  • Tornado Warnings

          Issued when a tornado has been detected by NWS doppler radar or identified by  

          spotters.

  • Flash Flood Warnings

          Issued when flash flooding is expected within 6 hours due to excessive rainfall

          estimated by NWS doppler radar or reported.

 

 

 

Severe Weather Product Summary

 

 

Review the NWS Springfield Severe Weather Product & Services and Flood Product & Services pages for more details.

 

Severe Weather Warnings and Outlooks
Product
Description
Awareness & Action Level
Hazardous Weather Outlook Issued at least twice daily at 6 AM and 1 PM to alert you of potential weather hazards.   Stay tuned to later statements and be alert for the development of hazardous weather.
Severe Weather Watches Issued when conditions become favorable for the development of severe weather. Prepare and take necessary precautions in the event a warning is issued or severe weather is observed.
Severe Thunderstorm Warning Issued when severe weather (1" hail or larger and/or winds in excess of 58 mph) is imminent. Take immediate action to save lives and property.
Tornado Warning Issued when a tornado is imminent and has been spotted or indicated by doppler radar. Take immediate action to save lives and property.
Severe Weather Statement Issued to update the status of severe weather warnings and give specific details on the location and severity of storms.  
Local Storm Reports Issued to inform you of actual severe weather occurrences.

 

 

Flood Warnings and Outlooks
Product
Description
Awareness & Action Level
Flood Potential Outlook Issued 36 to 72 hours before potential flood events. Stay tuned to later statements and be alert for the development of flooding.
Flood Watch Issued when conditions become favorable for flooding. Prepare and take necessary precautions in the event a warning is issued or flooding is observed.
Flash Flood Warning Issued when rapid and life threatening water rises are imminent. Take immediate action to save lives and property.
Flood Warning Issued for main stem river flooding or over land flooding for an extended period of time. Take immediate action to save lives and property.
Flash Flood & Flood Statements Issued to update the status of warnings and watches, and give specific details on the locations and severity of flooding. 

 

 


 

Sources of Weather Information

 

  • NOAA Weather Radio - Your fastest link to vital information 24 hours/day.  

NWS Springfield site

NWS national site  -  www.weather.gov/nwr

  • The Internet - Your official source for reliable and accurate weather information.

    NWS Springfield Homepage

    EMWIN - Emergency Management Weather Information Network.

 

A suite of data access methods which make available a live stream of weather and other critical emergency information .

http://iwin.nws.noaa.gov/emwin/index.html

  • Commercial or cable television – You can tune to your local or cable TV station to receive National Weather Service watches/warnings/advisories



  • Commercial radio – LP1 stations broadcast all tornado, severe thunderstorm, and flash flood warnings.


 

 

NOAA Weather Radio

NOAA weather radio is an essential tool for all spotters that provides up to date weather forecasts and warnings.  Monitor NOAA weather radio during potential severe weather for the latest weather statements and warnings.

 

Station Location Frequency Some cities within range

WXL-46

Fordland

162.400 MHz

Springfield...Branson...Ozark

KZZ-82

Gainesville

162.425 MHz

Gainesville...Ava

WXJ-61

Avilla

162.425 MHz

Joplin...Neosho

WXM-81

Hermitage

162.450 MHz

Hermitage

KZZ-30

El Dorado Springs

162.475 MHz

Nevada...El Dorado Springs...Stockton Lake...Osceola

WWF-76

Summersville

162.475 MHz

West Plains...Houston...Eminence

WNG-648

Dixon

162.500 MHz

Dixon...Rolla...Vienna

KXI-35

Alton

162.500 MHz

Alton

KXI-38

West Plains

162.525 MHz

West Plains

WNG-608

Cassville

162.525 MHz

Cassville...Monett

WXJ-90

Osage Beach

162.550 MHz

Osage Beach...Lake of the Ozarks

KZZ-43

Branson

162.550 MHz

Branson...Kimberling City...Forsyth and Galena

 

 

NOAA weather radio map

 

Internet

 

The NWS Springfield web site offers a wealth of weather information useful in assessing the potential of severe weather.

The graphical Hazardous Weather Outlook provides a quick overview of potential weather hazards for the next seven days.  This product is a great planning tool.

The Severe Weather Briefing page provides several severe weather graphics and text products on one user friendly web page.

The Storm Prediction Center provides comprehensive severe weather information including watches and meso-scale discussions.

Monitor NWS Doppler Radar to assess storm type, location and movement.

Weather Briefing pages provides packaged weather graphics and products for general forecast, flooding, and current weather conditions.


 

 

Thank You!

 

 

The National Weather Service thanks all of those who volunteer their time and energy in providing crucial storm reports. 

 

Your reports are critical to providing life saving warnings.

 

 

 


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