Special to Franklin County Free Press
Final Part in a 5 Part Series
FRANKLIN COUNTY — It’s Severe Weather Awareness Week in Pennsylvania and the National Weather Service wants to educate the public about different aspects of the term “severe” when it comes to weather.
The topic today is “Skywarn Severe Weather Spotters.”
Each year a dedicated group of volunteer weather spotters, known as Skywarn, provide National Weather Service offices across the country with important eyewitness information about tornadoes, flash floods and damaging thunderstorms.
Skywarn spotters are people with an interest in the weather, and an interest in helping others.
While Doppler weather radars can help meteorologists identify rotating thunderstorms, skywarn spotters can help to pinpoint places where a tornado may form, even before a tornado touches ground.
Skywarn spotters are also essential to confirm that tornadoes have touched down, to report on the extent of damage, and to provide added details of a threat to a community.
A large number of Skywarn spotters are also ham radio operators.
Franklin County Free Press will have a story in the upcoming weeks about the vital service those amateur radio operators provide their communities in ties of crisis.
Amateur radio emergency groups and amateur radio clubs are called into action whenever Tornado or Severe Thunderstorm watches or warnings are in effect across the commonwealth.
These spotters collect information through ham radio nets, then relay that information to emergency management and to the National Weather Service.
As as a part of emergency preparedness, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, county emergency managers, and the National Weather Service depend heavily on ham radio and other volunteer skywarn spotters provide to the commonwealth.
Be prepared for the dangers of this severe weather season, and consider becoming a Skywarn spotter.