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Title: Become a Skywarn® Weather Spotter

Skywarn logoSteve Welzant, Senior Emergency Management Planner
Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management

Even with all of the Doppler radar and state-of-the-art technology in the world, there is no substitute for a real person with "boots on the ground" giving up-to-the-minute observations of developing hazardous weather conditions.  If you are a Weather Channel addict or just want to help your community, have we got a great volunteer opportunity for you!  

The National Weather Service (NWS) and the Baltimore County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management are teaming up to offer a weather spotter class.  This class will be held on Monday, September 16th from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Baltimore County Public Safety Building in Towson. This program is free and anyone is welcome to attend. 

The Skywarn® spotter program is a nationwide network of volunteers trained by the NWS to report significant weather.  The introductory Skywarn® class is entitled "Basics I" (see description below). This program is designed to educate the public on hazardous weather threats in our area, as well as, strengthen the ties between the NWS and the local community. The more spotters the NWS has out there, the faster vital “ground truth” information gets to the NWS forecasters who make the decisions to issue life-saving weather warnings. 

Upon completion of the course, you will be registered in the program by the NWS and perform an invaluable service for the NWS. Your real-time observations of tornadoes, hail, rain/snow totals, wind and significant cloud formations will provide a truly reliable information base for severe weather detection and verification. You will receive a spotter code from the NWS within 6 weeks. The Basics I course is a prerequisite for all other Skywarn® courses. 

Training in Basics I includes:

·       The basic organization of the National Weather Service

·       The role and importance of the Skywarn spotter

·       NWS Products and the Watch/Warning/Advisory system

·       Thunderstorms

·       Thunderstorm threats:

o   Lightning

o   Flooding

o   Hail

o   Tornadoes

o   Downbursts

·       How to report vital info to the NWS

·       The role of amateur short-wave (HAM) radio in the Spotter Program

If you would like to participate in this class, please RSVP to Donna Welsh at 410-887-5996 or email by Thursday, September 12th. Hope to see you there!


Revised April 6, 2016