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SKYWARN

SKYWARN

Description: NOAA's National Weather Service (NWS), part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, established SKYWARN in the 1970s with partner organizations as a volunteer program to help keep local communities safe by providing timely and accurate reports of severe weather to the National Weather Service.

SKYWARN storm spotters are part of the ranks of citizens who form the nation’s first line of defense against severe weather. Although SKYWARN spotters provide essential information for all types of weather hazards, the main responsibility of a SKYWARN spotter is to identify and describe severe local storms. In the average year, 10,000 severe thunderstorms, 5,000 floods and more than 1,000 tornadoes occur across the United States.

NWS encourages anyone with an interest in public service and access to communication, such HAM radio, to join the SKYWARN program. Volunteers include police and fire personnel, dispatchers, EMS workers, public utility workers and other concerned private citizens. Individuals affiliated with hospitals, schools, churches, nursing homes or who have a responsibility for protecting others are also encouraged to become a spotter.

Project Details

  • PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Run by local Warning Coordination Meteorologists
  • SCIENTIST AFFILIATION: National Weather Service
  • DATES: Ongoing
  • PROJECT TYPE: Observation
  • COST: Free
  • GRADE LEVEL: All Ages
  • TIME COMMITMENT: Variable
  • HOW TO JOIN:

    NWS has 122 local Weather Forecast Offices, each with a Warning Coordination Meteorologist, who is responsible for administering the SKYWARN program in their local area. Training is conducted at these local offices. Classes are free and typically are about two hours long. To find out when a SKYWARN class will be conducted in local your area, contact your local Warning Coordination Meteorologist.

See more projects in FreeObservationAll Ages.

What Is Citizen Science?

Research often involves teams of scientists collaborating across continents. Now, using the power of the Internet, non-specialists are participating, too. Citizen Science falls into many categories. A pioneering project was SETI@Home, which has harnessed the idle computing time of millions of participants in the search for extraterrestrial life. Citizen scientists also act as volunteer classifiers of heavenly objects, such as in Galaxy Zoo. They make observations of the natural world, as in The Great Sunflower Project. And they even solve puzzles to design proteins, such as FoldIt. We'll add projects regularly—and please tell us about others you like as well.

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