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Welcome to our SKYWARNTM page! The most important goal of the National Weather Service (NWS) is to protect lives and property through timely watches and warnings, and the SKYWARNTM program is an essential part of achieving this goal.

Since SKYWARNTM began in the 1970s, thousands of volunteers have helped the NWS issue more accurate and timely severe weather warnings by acting as spotters. The role of the spotter is to serve as the eyes and ears of the NWS during severe weather situations.

Most SKYWARNTM volunteers are involved with amateur (HAM) radio, because HAM radio operators are well-equipped to relay their reports of severe weather. However, the SKYWARNTM program also includes law enforcement agencies, emergency management personnel, public utilities workers, and even people who are simply interested in the weather.

Although the NWS office at Tallahassee has obtained modernized equipment such as the WSR-88D Doppler radar to better detect severe weather, SKYWARNTM spotters continue to be essential to our warning process.  Even with all the new technology, an accurate report from a SKYWARNTM spotter often provides critical information required by the forecasters to issue timely warnings, which can save lives.  

If you live within our CWFA, we invite you to become part of the SKYWARNTM program. We offer seminars that train spotters to identify and report severe weather, and to also look for indications that severe weather may be imminent.  

A very important part of our SKYWARNTM network is Amateur (HAM) Radio. HAM radio operators, or HAMs, are a valuable resource to the NWS because of their ability to communicate during times of severe weather when other communication media may fail. Many HAMs have radios in their cars, which allows them to "go mobile" and get to areas where severe weather is occurring.

At least one HAM is also stationed at the NWS office when severe weather is occurring. It is the duty of this HAM to act as a network controller by relaying information between HAMs in the field and NWS personnel. HAMs report their positions and eyewitness reports, while NWS personnel give information about storm locations and motions. This allows the net controller to instruct other HAMs where to go.

Area HAMs recently set up an Automatic Position Reporting System (APRS) at the NWS Tallahassee office. APRS uses packet radio to relay data that can be displayed on a computer.

If you want to learn more about Amateur Radio, a good place to start is the Amateur Radio Relay League. Excellent resources for getting started in HAM radio can also be found at local HAM Radio clubs.

Any amateur radio or county government organization that would like to receive SKYWARNTM spotter training should contact Kelly Godsey.


Please send questions or comments about this page to Kelly Godsey.


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