is the National Weather Service (NWS) program of trained volunteer
severe weather spotters. Skywarn volunteers support their local
community and government by providing the NWS with timely and accurate
severe weather reports. These reports, when integrated with modern NWS
technology, are used to inform communities of the proper actions to
take as severe weather threatens.
formed in the early 1970's, has historically provided critical severe
weather information to the NWS in time to get the appropriate warnings
issued . Thus the key focus of the Skywarn program is to save lives and
property through the use of the observations and reports of trained
the elaborate radar and forecasting equipment at the National Weather
Service, they are only able to determine the potential for severe
weather. They rely on reports from the public and law enforcement
personnel and the actual severe weather.
Amateur Radio operator's participation in the Skywarn program is
formally acknowledged and encouraged in a Memorandum of Understanding
(MOU) between the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) and the NWS. This
agreement indicates that ARRL will encourage its local volunteer groups
operating as the Ameteur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) to provide the
NWS with spotters and communicators as requested by the NWS during
times of severe weather.
civil disasters are the direct result of severe weather and/or are
exacerbated by severe weather. Accordingly, the NWS may utilize the
Skywarn Amateur Radio operators not only to obtain and disseminate
severe weather observations and warnings, but may also use them to
maintain close coordination with the Red Cross and Emergency Managers
from local government entities under ARES or Radio Amateur Civil
Emergency Service (RACES).
is organization of volunteer Amateur Radio operators trained in
emergency communications and severe weather spotting. Authorized and
regulated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), RACES
provides essential communications and warning links for state and local
governments during emergencies. The importance of this additional role
for Skywarn was demonstrated during the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew
in August of 1992.
and reliable information from the general public is difficult to
obtain. Severe weather is complicated and confusing. The NWS has found
that only regular training of weather spotters improves the quality of
information we receive. The National Weather Service (NWS) collaborates
with Amateur Radio organizations and others to put together training
programs. The NWS brings its weather knowledge, the Amateur Radio
Service brings its expertise in emergency communications, and together
they work with local government and the Red Cross.
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