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Skywarn Weather Spotting

Skywarn is an affiliate of the National Weather Service. Amateur radio operators receive annual weather spotter training, which enables them to submit weather observations to the National Weather Service when a Skywarn net is activated. 
During times of severe weather, how does the National Weather Service (NWS) know what is actually going on in communities? Conventional radar is helpful, but to fine-tune watches and warnings, and to verify computer models, NWS meteorologists rely on reports from the field by trained weather spotters.

The amateur radio community has a long history with the Skywarn program. Because amateur radio is independent of the power grid or commercial communications infrastructure, it allows the message to get through regardless of the effects of a storm. Skywarn members are not "storm chasers" as popularized in movies such as Twister. The NWS discourages placing oneself in harm's way to observe a storm, and many storm spotters relay information from home. However, some storm spotters use pre-determined observation areas in their communities to relay reports. 

The Iowa storm spotter training schedule is available here: http://www.weather.gov/dmx/stormspotting

Mid-Iowa Skywarn Association

The Mid-Iowa Skywarn Association (MISA) maintains an amateur radio station, K0DMX, at the NWS Facility in Johnston, Iowa. The MISA website is a one-stop shop for information about Skywarn, weather spotting, and the amateur radio repeater network and frequencies used to report information to the National Weather Service. For more information, go to: http://www.midiowaskywarn.org/

"Become a Storm Spotter from Home" Site

The website "Become a Storm Spotter from Home" has a collection of resources for those interested in learning more about weather spotting. It includes information about how weather spotting works, spotter safety, and how weather events form.

"Become a Backyard Meteorologist" Site

The website "Become a Backyard Meteorologist" has a collection of resources for those interested in learning more about weather, as well.

Skywarn in Action

Promotional video for storm spotters by the Albuquerque, NM National Weather Service Office:

Below is a sample of net audio from a Skywarn Net in Michigan.

All About Weather Vanes

Information about weather vanes and weather forecasting from the past can be found here: A Guide to Weather Vanes.