The National Weather Service relies on its network of trained weather spotters to report severe weather. This is part of a nationwide program called skywarn. Real-Time reports from these skywarn spotters can be integrated with what is seen on doppler radar to help the National Weather Service issue the most accurate severe weather warnings possible.
Every spring and summer, several training sessions are held. They are open to the public free of charge. The session is about a two and one-Half to 3 hour slide and video presentation which shows the cloud features associated with severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. Examples from New England are stressed, including damage photos from the 1953 Worcester tornado, the 1979 Windsor Locks tornado, the 1986 Providence/Cranston tornado, the 1995 great Barrington tornado, and the 1996 downburst in and near Brockton.
The training also stresses what types of phenomena should be reported. Upon completion of the training, identification cards are handed out along with a special phone number for reporting directly to the National Weather Service.
Relationship to COMET training: We understand that some Skywarn training courses are available through COMET (the Cooperative Program for Operational Meteorolog, Education, and Training)...entitled "Role of the Skywarn Spotter" and "Skywarn Convective Basics." While these are instructive, they do not meet the requirements to become a NWS-Taunton Skywarn Spotter. In order to attain a Taunton Skywarn ID #, it is necessary to attend one of the in-person training classes offered, usually in the spring and early summer. Once you are a trained spotter, then additional recertification training can be done online."