|Virtual Office Tour|
The SKYWARN program is an essential part of achieving our NWS mission of protecting lives and property. Since its inception, thousands of volunteers have helped the NWS issue more accurate and timely severe weather warnings by acting as SKYWARN or weather awareness spotters. The role of the spotter is to serve as the eyes and ears of the NWS during severe weather situations. Even with all the new technology available to NWS forecasters that we covered at previous tour stops, an accurate report from a SKYWARN spotter often provides the critical piece of information needed by the forecaster to issue a timely life-saving warning.
Most SKYWARN volunteers are involved with amateur (HAM) radio, because HAM radio operators are well-equipped to relay their reports of severe weather. HAM radio operators are a valuable resource to the NWS because of their ability to communicate during times of severe weather when other communication media may fail. Many HAMs have radios in their cars, which allows them to "go mobile" and get to areas where severe weather is occurring.
Here in the office, we track our SKYWARN spotters in GIS software, as depicted by the green dots on the PC below. Each dot contains the contact information for one of our spotters. In the event of severe weather, NWS Wakefield staff will call our spotters for information. Spotters are also given the necessary information to get their reports to us as quickly as possible. Spotter information is also used on our AWIPS platform, and can be used alongside Radar information for easy use by our forecasters. For more information on our SKYWARN program, check out the Wakefield SKYWARN homepage!
For our last stop...we'll check out our Doppler Radar!
National Weather Service
10009 General Mahone Hwy Wakefield, VA 23888
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