The National Weather Service in Amarillo utilizes various spotter networks for severe and other inclement weather verification and reporting. The various spotter networks are comprised of emergency management officials, law enforcement, fire fighters, EMS personnel, road crews, the general public, and amateur radio operators.
Formed in the early 1970s, SKYWARN, is the National Weather Service program of volunteer severe weather spotters. SKYWARN volunteers support their local community and government by providing the NWS with timely and accurate severe weather reports. These reports are used to inform communities of approaching severe weather. Like the NWS, the focus of SKYWARN is simple -- to save lives and property.
Since the early 1990s, the WSR-88D doppler radar) has provided valuable information to forecasters with better detection of severe storm phenomena and more accurate and timely warnings. However, even with the advance in technology, "ground truth" is still a very important part of the warning process. "Ground truth" is what is actually occurring. More specifically, is a storm tornadic? Is it producing large hail? How about damaging winds? Most of the "ground truth" is provided by trained storm spotters who are the eyes of the NWS.