Skywarn
About Skywarn™...
The National Weather Service modernized during the 1990s, with technological advances and employee training greatly improving the warning process.
 

While changes have taken place, some things have remained the same.  Skywarn™ has been around for several decades, and is valuable when severe weather threatens. For more about Skywarn™, click here.

 

Each year, the value of this program is celebrated during Skywarn™ Recognition Day. For more details, click here.

 

Read about Skywarn™ and other topics below...

 
 
While we try to schedule spotter classes whenever there is a need, you may consider becoming a National Weather Service storm spotter by taking a course online. This course contains two segments that are found at the link below.

Our office accepts the online course as fulfilling all the requirements to become an official spotter.

 
 
 
 
 

Skywarn™ (formed in the early 1970s) is the National Weather Service (NWS) program of trained 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, when integrated with modern NWS technology, are used to inform communities of approaching severe weather. The focus of Skywarn™ (and of the NWS) is simple...to save lives and property.

 
 
 
WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) Storm Relative Velocity Map (SRM) images indicated strong rotation from east of Russellville (Pope County), or around Atkins (Pope County), to Clinton (Van Buren County) between 502 pm and 536 pm CST on 02/05/2008.

For a long time, the NWS has relied on radar data when issuing warnings.

In the picture: WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) Storm Relative Velocity Map (SRM) images indicated strong rotation from east of Russellville (Pope County), or around Atkins (Pope County), to Clinton (Van Buren County) between 502 pm and 536 pm CST on 02/05/2008.
 

Since the early 1990s, the WSR-88D (Doppler Weather 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" answers what exactly is going on.  Is the storm tornadic?  Is it producing large hail?  How about damaging winds?  Most of the "ground truth" is provided by trained storm spotters (through Skywarn™)...or the "eyes of the NWS."

 
 
 

The NWS believes so much in storm spotters (and Skywarn™) that it provides continuous training.  The students are members of law enforcement, emergency management, HAM radio clubs, and are also ordinary citizens who just want to help.  All that is necessary is to spend a few hours learning about severe weather...what a severe storm is, the structure of a severe storm, how it develops, and how to inform the NWS of severe weather.

 

The course is presented in a multimedia format. Many visuals and animations are provided to make the material easier to understand.

The Spotter's Training Course has been mostly computerized.
In the picture: An example of a slide in the spotter training multimedia presentation.
 

At the completion of the course, students are eligible to receive certificates which make them official NWS storm spotters for five years.

 

The course is normally taught by the Warning Coordination Meteorologist (WCM) from a local NWS office.  The WCM helps develop the coursework and is the liason between storm spotters and the NWS. 

 
Little Rock County Warning Area

Courses through the NWS Forecast Office in Little Rock are offered in 45 counties... namely the office's County Warning Area (CWA). For a closer look at CWAs across Arkansas, click on the links below:

 
Graphical Text
 
 
 
To become a trained storm spotter, you must complete the coursework provided by the NWS. The NWS often works with county emergency managers and officials to plan classes, with numerous classes given each year. Currently, there are no classes planned.
 
Have you considered becoming a spotter via the internet? There is an online course available. For more information, click here.
 
 
 

For Skywarn™ to work, it is crucial for reports to make it from storm spotters to the NWS.  The easiest way to make contact is by phone through a special 800 number. 

 
Storm reports can be submitted through HAM radio.

Also, during many severe weather events...reports can be submitted through HAM radio. 

 

The Arkansas Weather Net, Inc. often provides its services at the NWS...with reports immediately relayed from HAM operators to radar operators

 

Reports can also be filed at this web site through a special "Weather Reporting Form."  To see this form, click here.

 
 
 

Obviously, the reports go to the NWS.  They are used both during and after severe weather events.  During the events, the reports help radar operators determine what a storm is producing so they can warn counties farther downstream.   After the events, the reports are used for studies.  Quite often, reports are correlated with radar data to help measure the performance of the radar and to help forecasters interpret the data.  In the end, forecasters end up becoming better radar operators.

 

Reports are also compiled in a monthly publication called "Storm Data."

A Storm Data publication.
 
 
 
Skywarn™ involves getting yourself trained to identify and report severe weather.
 
StormReady Logo

StormReady goes one step further, training  communities how to prepare for severe weather.

 
Is your community StormReady? If you're not sure, or you would like to learn more about StormReady...click here
 
StormReady in the Little Rock County Warning Area
Eaton Corporation in Searcy (White County)/Jul, 2013
Mercy Hospital in Hot Springs (Garland County)/Dec, 2012
Hot Spring County/Nov, 2012
Saline County/May, 2012
UAMS in Little Rock (Pulaski County)/Sep, 2011
Conway County/Oct, 2010
Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock (Pulaski County)/Aug, 2010
Lonoke County/Feb, 2009
Danville (Yell County)/Sep, 2008
Johnson County/Aug, 2008
Grant County/Aug, 2007
Jackson County/Jun, 2001
Hot Springs/Garland County/May, 2001
 
 

USA.gov is the U.S. government's official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services.