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National Weather Service SKYWARN® Training


The US National Weather Service's SKYWARN® Program provides a valuable, accessible port of entry to the world of emergency communications, one of the pillars underpinning the Amateur Radio Service. And it does so with something that everyone is interested in following: weather.

The NWS's Albuquerque forecast office will hold a free SKYWARN training session at the Duke City Hamfest/ARRL New Mexico State Convention on Sunday, Sept. 20, from 9:00 a.m. to noon. You do not need to sign up for the course in advance.

What is SKYWARN? It's a program that enlists and trains volunteers to become the eyes for local forecast offices during severe weather. Yes, even in this era of high-tech

forecasting tools and weather monitoring systems, human eyes in the field remain vital.


Reports from spotters help forecast offices decide when to issue severe-thunderstorm, tornado, or flash-flood warnings. Reports of storm totals for rain or snowfall feed official stream-flow or drought assessments and forecasts. Spotter information also provides additional data that can help NWS researchers improve forecasting tools.

SKYWARN training isn't just for newbies to emergency communication. If you move from one part of the country to another, retraining is important; information a local forecast office wants you to provide can vary by state or region. In New Mexico, where the flash-flood hazard is high, NWS forecasters are interested in rainfall rates of one inch an hour, measured at 15-minute intervals. In southern New England, forecasters ask to be notified if a spotter actually measures 1 inch of rain in one hour.

This September's course will focus on the program's background, how to report conditions, and most important, what to watch for so that your reports are accurate. You'll learn how to distinguish between true severe-weather indicators and similar features that look like the real deal but aren't.

If weather fascinates you and you are interested in turning that fascination into a valuable public service, this course is for you!

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