817 The Modernization of the NWS SKYWARN® Weather Spotter Program - Making Advances through Education, Technology and Partnerships

Thursday, 10 January 2013
Exhibit Hall 3 (Austin Convention Center)
Tanja Fransen, NOAA/NWS, Glasgow, MT; and C. Maier and J. J. Jans

Handout (35.3 MB)

The SKYWARN® Weather Spotter Program has long been the symbolic eyes and ears of the NWS during times of severe weather and flooding. Since its humble beginnings in the 1960's, the program now boasts over 300,000 volunteer spotters across the nation. Spotters are volunteer citizens comprised of people from every profession. The storm reports that they provide are significant “ground truth” information that help the NWS meteorologists issue timely, accurate and detailed warnings. While SKYWARN is recognized as a national organization, it receives minimal federal funding and operates at its best potential in a de-centralized capacity under the direction of the Warning Coordination Meteorologists (WCMs) at each of the 122 NWS Weather Forecast Offices (WFO) in the U.S. Some spotters are independent of affiliation and some perform as non-regulated individual chapters or groups. This has presented a number of challenges to streamlining and standardizing the reporting and training of weather spotters across the country.

Rising to the challenge, a series of advances have been underway since 2009 through the efforts of the SKYWARN Modernization Project. This project has made improvements in several keys areas from training materials to adopting innovative online technologies as well as developing working relationships with non-traditional parties sharing similar missions. This paper will focus on three core areas of advances in education, technology and partnerships. These advances in the SKYWARN program have enhanced the effectiveness and versatility of its operation. They are building a more cohesive and connected spotter community - a significant step toward a Weather-Ready Nation.

Supplementary URL: http://www.skywarn.org/documents/AMS2013_SKYWARN_Final.pdf

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