Even with all the technology used by the National Weather Service to prepare severe weather warnings, storm spotters still give us the most complete picture of what's really happening in and around severe storms. Radar simply cannot tell us everything we need to know. Storm spotters are the eyes and ears in the field.
For more than 60 years, storm spotters have been the Nation’s first line of defense against deadly storms. Working with their local communities and with the local National Weather Service office, spotters provide invaluable assistance and critical information to decision makers when hazardous weather threatens. Countless lives have been saved because of this unique partnership between volunteer storm spotters, emergency management and the National Weather Service.
For more information on the history of storm spotters, please read Storm Spotting and Public Awareness Since the First Tornado Forecasts of 1948 by Dr. Charles Doswell III, Alan Moller, and Dr. Harold Brooks.
For basic information on becoming a spotter, please read Getting Started in Tornado and Thunderstorm Spotting by Dr. Keith Brewster.
This guide is intended to introduce you to the world of storm spotting. It is NOT intended to replace the official training that is offered by National Weather Service meteorologists each year. Viewing a website cannot substitute for attendance and participation in a 2-3 hour training session, so if you are interested in learning more and becoming a storm spotter, you should contact your local emergency management agency or the National Weather Service.
This guide is divided into four sections: