Many of you have submitted questions regarding trained weather spotters. What does it mean to be a weather spotter? What impact does it have? What does it take to be one? Today we’ll answer all of these questions and more, plus we may even inspire you to become a weather spotter yourself.
What is a Weather Spotter?
A weather spotter is first and foremost someone that has a commitment to helping their local community. Their responsibility is to report severe weather to the National Weather Service, or NWS. The weather spotter’s reports are communicated to 1 of 122 NWS Weather Forecast Offices, who then provide the public with accurate weather information. This volunteer-based program originated in the 1960’s as a way for the NWS to connect with regions across the country. The program is called “Skywarn” and it recruits weather-loving volunteers to help update the NWS of severe weather patterns that form. Weather spotters have had a vital role in public safety for over 50 years and that won’t change anytime soon.
Why It’s Important
This role is important because the volunteers are the crucial link between the NWS and regions that need to be warned about impending weather conditions. Trained severe weather spotters monitor and report all severe weather activity to the NWS so their areas can stay informed. Therefore, their job has a deep impact on the safety and protection of the community they serve in. Without the hundreds of thousands of weather spotters in America, most of the severe weather in our country would not be reported as accurately or timely.
How To Become a Weather Spotter
If you have a strong passion for severe weather and public service, you should consider becoming a weather spotter. Skywarn currently has over 350,000 volunteer weather spotters across America, all who help warn their communities of severe storms ahead. The training for this role consists of a free two hour session hosted by the NWS or a local Skywarn group. It’s a mandatory session that teaches volunteers about storm structures, identifying severe weather behavior, basic weather safety, and more. If you’re interested in becoming a weather spotter and would like to find a Skywarn class or talk to a representative in your region, click here.
Weather spotters are the unsung heroes of the weather community. You don’t know who they are, but they are constantly keeping an eye on severe weather that could threaten the lives and property in your area. Consider becoming a weather spotter and contact your local NWS Forecast Office about their training sessions and volunteer positions. If you are already a trained weather spotter and would like to share some tips or your personal experience, comment below!