PENNSYLVANIA (WHTM) — The first thing that usually comes to mind when it comes to people predicting and talking about the weather is meteorologists. These individuals are trained and certified to forecast the weather. But, did you know that the general public also can help with spotting and reporting weather?
The National Weather Service has a program that allows the general public to assist the weather service in spotting severe weather. This program is called the SKYWARN Spotter Program.
Since weather radar can only be used to collect weather data to a certain distance, the weather service relies on these weather spotters to report severe weather back to their local National Weather Service office.
Nationwide, the program has between 350,000 and 400,000 volunteers who have been trained by National Weather Service meteorologists and staff.
No experience is needed to be a SKYWARN weather spotter. Volunteers include fire personnel, dispatchers, public utility workers, and concerned members of the public. The National Weather Service holds free classes for the general public to certify or re-certify new SKYWARN weather spotters. You can find the closest class in your area by clicking here.
There is no charge for the classes and they usually take two hours to conduct. According to the National Weather Service, the training will teach the following:
- Basics of thunderstorm development
- Fundamentals of storm structure
- Identifying potential severe weather features
- Information to report
- How to report information
- Basic severe weather safety
More information about SKYWARN can be found here.