SKYWARN

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dizzyfish
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SKYWARN

#1 Postby dizzyfish » Mon May 24, 2010 8:13 am

I had an idea for starting a sticky to share info, activities and experiences for those of us involved with the NWS SKYWARN program and also for those members who would like information about SKYWARN.

SKYWARN is very interesting and is a valuable tool that I believe deserves recognition. I attended a recertification class recently and Daniel Noah (NWS Ruskin, Florida) mentioned how much the NWS depends on us to help get accurate storm information out to the public in the form of watches and warnings.

I spoke with vbhoutex about this and it has been approved as a thread and will be made a sticky. He will be speaking with other admins about maybe having a link to SKYWARN on the home page.

Please use this thread to post any questions, experiences and information about the SKYWARN program in your areas.

*stickied by vbhoutex*
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Re: SKYWARN

#2 Postby vbhoutex » Mon May 24, 2010 10:06 am

I am also SKYWARN certified. I imagine many of our members are also and if they are not I would encourage each of you to get that certification. Many NWS offices sponsor the certification classes as well as many local OEM offices. Google Skywarn for your area and you should be able to obtain the information needed to find a certification class near you.

I know for a fact that NWS does use our reports to issue warnings since I have called in hail and flooding reports and then heard the issuance of more localized severe reports. Since the NWS has gone to more localized severe warnings in the last few years it makes it even more important that they have as many Skywarn certified reporters in the field.

If you are Skywarn certified please share your experiences and activities with us here. We would also appreciate any officials involved with Skywarn posting information etc. in this thread.
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#3 Postby brunota2003 » Mon May 24, 2010 12:03 pm

I have been a spotter with the NWS in Newport, NC for 4 years this July, and am what they refer to as a "point" spotter (versus mobile spotter). I have since moved out of eastern NC, but kept my spotter number because I can still call in/email reports, despite not being in NC.

I've called in numerous reports, including one where I was in Virginia (was visiting Grandma) and we had a thunderstorm pop up and it produced estimated winds up to 40 or 50 mph. I did not know Wakefield's number, so I called down to my NWS office and they relayed the report for me. Got back home and found out Wakefield had put out a special weather statement regarding that storm, capable of producing wind gusts of 40 to 50 mph (and the SPS was based off of my report, prior to my call there was no SPS).

The most memorable one, though, was at home and we got quarter sized (and a little larger) hail. The NWS had us under a Svr Warning for up to Quarter sized hail, called the office and the forecaster I talked to said that they had received other reports as well, and that the warning was verifying nicely. Called a second time to report the end time of the hail, and he said they received some new reports of golfball sized hail right up the road from my house (we missed it luckily).

I've also called in for damaging winds, along with a non-rotating wall cloud. The storm that produced the wall cloud had just produced a tornado in the county next to us (about 15 minutes before it hit us).

May 20, 2008 Hail Storm:

http://i125.photobucket.com/albums/p62/ ... CF3857.jpg
Quarter sized hail on May 20, 2008

http://i125.photobucket.com/albums/p62/ ... CF3873.jpg
Storm that produced the hail after it moved through.

May 11, 2008 Wall Cloud:

http://i125.photobucket.com/albums/p62/ ... atches.png
May 11, 2008 Watches/Warnings for NWS Newport county warning area (Pinkish is Svr T-storm Watch, Yellow is Tornado Watch, Orange is Svr T-storm Warning, Red is Tornado Warning...at that time, I was in the warning just south of New Bern).

http://i125.photobucket.com/albums/p62/ ... arned2.png
Cell produced a tornado at this time (my location, being my parents' house, is marked with the red cross east of the storm).

http://i125.photobucket.com/albums/p62/ ... arned5.png
Cell passing just to our north, over Cherry Point, around the same time I saw the cloud to our NNW.

http://i125.photobucket.com/albums/p62/ ... F3805b.jpg
The non-rotating wall cloud. I'm still skeptical about it being exactly that, but it was in the right location (southern portion of the storm, in the same area where the tornado had been 15 minutes prior). Also, looking through my spotter guide book, there were a couple wall clouds that looked almost exactly like that...there was no rotation associated with it that I could see (but I only got a brief glimpse and photo, too many trees to get a good, long look). So, to be on the safe side, I went ahead and called it in to the NWS, who as usual, were very grateful for the report. (Just to say...the building in the foreground is a church).
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#4 Postby wx247 » Thu May 27, 2010 7:41 am

I am Skywarn certified as well. I have been for two years now.

I would encourage anyone who has not become certified to check with their local NWS office to find out when/if your office provides these classes. They are generally held in the evening and are well worth your time.
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#5 Postby tomboudreau » Thu May 27, 2010 11:41 am

I started with the Skywarn program out of the Taunton office in '96 and when I moved to the Pittsburgh area in 2000, I moved my Skywarn information as well. I have learned a great deal of information attending sessions every couple of years. Learn something new almost every year. My wife has been my partner in crime since 2000.
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Re: SKYWARN

#6 Postby bvigal » Thu May 27, 2010 12:35 pm

This is a great idea! More spotters, the better.

I took first Skywarn class in Missouri 1985, when many of our ham radio club, also volunteer firefighters, were recruited by new Emergency Manager (also a ham). I think I had the advanced course a year or two later, after some flash floods and tornadoes. I lived in the biggest town around, no reports were needed from there, so often was sent out to some lonely country road to sit and watch the sky. Most of our other members lived in rural areas and could "spot" from their home. One dark stormy night, I got hit with a straight-line wind that almost turned my little truck over. That's how I began dispatching at the OEC. I decided that would be much safer, as EOC was in an underground bunker, LOL!!!
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Re: SKYWARN

#7 Postby Kay Frantz » Fri May 28, 2010 8:03 am

I am also a skywarn spotter out of the Ruskin, Florida office. I became a spotter for our local fire department in 1967 after we lost our home in a tornado. The local fire chief was there in a matter of min. even though he had received heavy damage to his own house. I spent many hours on point in Michigan befor I moved to Fl. in 1996. Also have worked the aftermath of several tornados as emergency responder. I live and work on Tampa Bay now so have seen a number of water spouts.
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#8 Postby Dave » Tue Jun 01, 2010 2:15 pm

I've been SKYWARN certified since 1987. Here in our county, all fire depts, police, rescue, and a lot of the general public are also SKYWARN spotters. As of March 1 2010 we have around 300 - 400 trained spotters in this county alone. On our SKYWARN severe weather nets we range from 10 - 50 checkin's each time (depends on time of day and severity of the systems coming through).

Weather here in this area is taken very seriously. I've worked as NCS (net control station) since 1992 ifI'm not on the road. I'm also a member of the W.A.R.N. Network out of Cincinnati OH who also works in conjunction with SKYWARN.

We average 2 to 5 tornadoes per year, multiple funnel cloud reports and flash flooding due to part of the county being flat farmlands and the other part hilly terrain which flows into the Ohio River valley. A scud cloud report is almost non existent because of the number of trained spotters across the county.
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Re: SKYWARN

#9 Postby Aslkahuna » Mon Aug 09, 2010 12:52 am

I've been a spotter since 1996 though I called in reports from our mesonet at FHU from 1987 until I retired in 1995. Spotters in Cochise County especially are usueful because of terrain blocking on the radar coverage there. Spotters also alerted Tucson NWS to the existence of intense downslope winds in the lee of the Huachuca Mountains during the cool season-something they were not aware of (nor was Phoenix despite information in existence that described them) which means that now they put out warnings for them-they hit really good last December calling for hurricane force gusts in the high wind zones around Sierra Vista. FHU had 71 mph gusts while in the high wind zones winds gusted over 90 mph.

Steve
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Re: SKYWARN

#10 Postby MississippiHurricane » Thu Aug 12, 2010 1:41 am

I have been SKYWARN certified for about 2 or 3 years now...its been a great experience. I have called in reports left and right from flooded streets to snow amounts. They only offer the basic classes here so far and no advanced ones. :( Even being certified i still try to attend the basic classes when I can to get a refresher course if you will. I love the fact SKYWARN certification is nationwide so I can go into any WFO county warning area and give reports (GPS coordinates are REALLY helpful to the NWS lol ). It gives me something to do and be proud of knowing that maybe my info can help saves lives or property. A couple of times when I called in info like flooded streets or rotating wall clouds they would issue warnings right then and there and the warnings would consist of "at X:XX a trained storm spotter indicated a rotating wall cloud" or " a trained storm spotter reported flooded streets" it gives a sense of accomplishment as well. Now to get "on the air" with a ham radio id be set!
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#11 Postby brunota2003 » Fri Aug 13, 2010 9:33 pm

Contact the person in charge of coordinating the skywarn classes at your local NWS office and express to them you would like to take an Advanced class, see if they can work one into the schedule.
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Re: SKYWARN

#12 Postby pojo » Tue Sep 21, 2010 3:56 am

I've been a skywarn spotter since 2001.
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#13 Postby brunota2003 » Tue Sep 21, 2010 7:57 am

Heyyy! Long time no see there, Pojo!
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Re: SKYWARN

#14 Postby dizzyfish » Tue Sep 21, 2010 9:30 am

pojo wrote:I've been a skywarn spotter since 2001.


Well, hello there! I was thinking about you the other day. How's it going?
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Re: SKYWARN

#15 Postby george_r_1961 » Tue Oct 12, 2010 2:29 am

Ive been a spotter since 2006. Most of my reports concerned flooding and ive also made a few severe thunderstorm reports.

Ive been reporting severe weather to either NWS or law enforcement since I was a kid.
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#16 Postby RobWESTPACWX » Tue Oct 12, 2010 8:07 am

NWS offices are always happy to get new people to be skywarn certified, if anyone is on this site enjoys weather I would recommend them, use that knowledge base they have for the greater good. I think its a great program.

On that note, there is a downfall to it, some people think that since there skywarn certified they should go chasing, and thats not the case, actually NWS stresses against it.
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Re: SKYWARN

#17 Postby Dean4Storms » Mon Feb 28, 2011 11:34 am

I'm certified as well and report to the NWS office in Tallahassee. I've reported severe weather and hurricane conditions.
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#18 Postby brunota2003 » Sun Mar 06, 2011 4:05 pm

Well...being stationed here in the North Country has given me the chance to deal with a "new" area - snowfall reports (yes, I used to measure snow as a kid, but that is different :lol: )

I called in a report last month, NWS was on the fence about issuing a winter storm warning, and about 20 minutes later they upgraded us, citing reports of 4+ inches in my county. We ended with a storm total of 9.1 inches here.

Speaking of snowfall reports...here is one I sent in earlier:

Code: Select all

...JEFFERSON COUNTY...
   FORT DRUM              2.5   300 PM   3/6
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#19 Postby AdamFirst » Thu Mar 10, 2011 11:41 pm

I attended the SKYWARN session in Indian River County tonight. I'm now a certified spotter, plus one of the mets there from the NWS was impressed by my knowledge of the topics discussed (considering the rest of the room was filled with retirees/HAM radio operators, maybe that's not such a big deal) :D
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Re:

#20 Postby dizzyfish » Tue Mar 22, 2011 1:28 pm

AdamFirst wrote:I attended the SKYWARN session in Indian River County tonight. I'm now a certified spotter, plus one of the mets there from the NWS was impressed by my knowledge of the topics discussed (considering the rest of the room was filled with retirees/HAM radio operators, maybe that's not such a big deal) :D


Congrats!
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