National Weather Service (NWS) has a number of devices for detecting
severe thunderstorms. Included in these are radar, satellite, and
lightning detection networks. However, the most important tool for
observing thunderstorms is the trained eye of the storm spotter.
While radar is used quite often in severe storm warnings, conventional
weather radar will only indicate areas and intensities of precipitation
and larger scale wind fields. It does not give any indications of
cloud formations associated with a storm. Doppler
radar, which is used across the country, gives some indication
of air motions inside a storm. Doppler radar, though, will not give
these indications down to the ground level. It is impossible for
any radar to detect every severe weather event in its coverage area,
and radar occasionally suggests severe weather, when in fact, none
and lightning detection networks provide general thunderstorm locations
and are extremely valuable in data-sparse regions (such as over
mountainous terrain or bodies of water). They help to identify persistent
thunderstorm areas and can be of aid in flash flooding forecasting.
These systems provide little in the way of quantitative real-time
information, though, and are not especially helpful during times
of fast-breaking severe weather.
trained spotter, you perform an invaluable service for the NWS.
Your real-time observations of tornadoes, hail, wind, and significant
cloud formations provide a truly reliable information base for severe
weather detection and verification. By providing observations, you
are assisting NWS staff members in their warning decisions and enabling
the NWS to fulfill its mission of protecting life and property.
You are helping to provide the citizens of your community with potentially
life saving information.
for this Training Module:
contained in these pages is not for the novice spotter/chaser. It
is recommended that spotters go through the
BASIC SKYWARN MODULE, and one or two basic spotter classes,
as well as have some actual spotting experience before attempting
this advanced training material. You should be comfortable with
the basic concepts of storm structure and storm spotting. Obviously,
you should have a desire to learn the latest concepts of tornado
and severe thunderstorm behavior.