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What is Skywarn?
The effects of severe weather are felt every year by many Americans. To obtain critical weather information, NOAA's National Weather Service (NWS), part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, established SKYWARN® with partner organizations. SKYWARN® is a volunteer program with nearly 290,000 trained severe weather spotters. These volunteers help keep their local communities safe by providing timely and accurate reports of severe weather to the National Weather Service. Although SKYWARN® spotters provide essential information for all types of weather hazards, the main responsibility of a SKYWARN® spotter is to identify and describe severe local storms. In the average year, 10,000 severe thunderstorms, 5,000 floods and more than 1,000 tornadoes occur across the United States. These events threatened lives and property. Since the program started in the 1970s, the information provided by SKYWARN® spotters, coupled with Doppler radar technology, improved satellite and other data, has enabled NWS to issue more timely and accurate warnings for tornadoes, severe thunderstorms and flash floods.
SKYWARN® storm spotters are part of the ranks of citizens who form the Nation's first line of defense against severe weather. There can be no finer reward than to know that their efforts have given communities the precious gift of time--seconds and minutes that can help save lives. While the main role of a storm spotter is to be their community's first line of defense against dangerous storms, they also provide important information to NWS warning forecasters who make critical warning decisions. Storm spotters play a critical role because they can see things that radar and other technological tools cannot, and this ground truth is critical in helping the NWS perform our primary mission, to save lives and property.
Skywarn Is Changing at NWS Lubbock
For the past 30 years or more, spotter training has been conducted in live training sessions all across the South Plains, southern Texas Panhandle, and Rolling Plains of West Texas. Beginning in 2013, and continuing in 2014, we are changing the training program to a mix of online training in the form of national and locally developed modules, along with regional training sessions. Therefore, there will be fewer live sessions across our 24 county warning area, but the online sessions can be taken at any time, at the convenience of the student. We believe this mix will result in a better overall and more efficient program. If you are interested in becoming a Skywarn spotter for your area, click on the "Become a Spotter" button above to complete our recommended training. Please keep in mind, these steps and instructions are unique to the NWS Lubbock county warning area. If you are not from this area, use this map to find your local office’s contact information and instructions.