New SKYWARN Spotter Training Course from COMET

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by AD0IU, Sep 4, 2011.

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  1. AD0IU

    AD0IU XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    The COMET Program is pleased to announce the publication of the SKYWARN Spotter Training Course. This course consists of two modules, "Role of the SKYWARN Spotter" and "SKYWARN Spotter Convective Basics", that provide baseline training for spotters including an overview of the national program and its history as well as actions to take during severe thunderstorms. Learners review multiple scenarios that walk them through procedures for making spotter reports with best practices for maintaining personal safety. They work through image galleries to practice identifying the spectrum of each storm feature in the field.

    This course includes photographs, video, audio narration, and companion print versions. The intended audience for the SKYWARN Spotter Training Course is the general public interested in becoming storm spotters, and after this training, you can register to become a SKYWARN spotter with the NWS. Please follow this link to enroll in the course:

    Most COMET modules use JavaScript and Adobe® Flash® for navigation, animation, and/or presentation of multimedia elements. Ensure that you have a browser updated to its latest version with JavaScript enabled and the latest version of the Adobe FlashPlayer installed ( For technical support for this module please visit our Registration and Support FAQs at

    We welcome any comments or questions you may have regarding the content, instructional approach, or use of this module. Please e-mail your comments or questions to Bryan Guarente ( or Liz Page (

    Dr. Tim Spangler
    Director, COMET
  2. WQ1C

    WQ1C Ham Member QRZ Page

    Not sure if this is a good idea or not. This would give Congress an excuse to cut NWS office budgets for training and such, since it's not seen that the same training can be had online. Furthermore, an idea such as this takes away opportunities for the general public to meet their local NWS forecasters in person and exchange ideas.

    But on the other hand, a program such as this would give those who could not attend a SKYWARN class in the past to be able to receive storm spotter training and provide help to the NWS when it couldn't be done before.

    Once all is said and done, what will be the end result?
  3. KE5EUA

    KE5EUA Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I think this is a good thing. Shreveport, LA Skywarn used to offer online training that would give you a certificate but it seems to have been taken offline. We must keep in mind that this is a new age and most if not everything is done online now. There will be opposition to it, but I look at it this way, when I was deployed I took the online course offered by Shreveport before I came back so I could be certified for the year. If it had not been available I would not have been able to get my certificate till the next season.
  4. K4PRB

    K4PRB Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Our local NWS office relies heavily on performing Skywarn Training to get OT payroll. They won't issue Skwarn spotter ID cards / numbers to anyone who doesn't sit through the extremely boring 2 hr. training classroom sessions every three years, even though their whole training program is posted on their website.

    It's all about that overtime money. In a metropolitan area with multiple TV stations with their own weather radars and their own internet / cellphone audio & video reports from the public, Skywarn serves little purpose other than generating OT pay for NWS folks doing the training. Several years ago when legitimate Skywarn spotter reports of defined severe weather were telephoned into NWS, they didn't even want to hear them.

    It's hard to imagine what this COMET (?) training will accomplish if our NWS office is typical, since they won't recognize any training except their own OT paid efforts.
  5. K0RGR

    K0RGR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Years ago, Metro SKYWARN in Minneapolis had an online course, too, which has evaporated. It was useful for people who were too late to get into the annual spotter training, and some SKYWARN groups, at least, would accept the training for the current season, with the expectation that the newbie would do the formal class the following spring. I would hope to see this used this way.

    It's not NWS who deploys spotters, it's usually the local emergency management people. The local EM also decides what credentials are required, and what the process will be for getting them. Some EM's have different requirements than others. In this county, they require a background check and issue a county ID card to spotters. In others, it's much less formal. In some, it's much more involved - in the Twin Cities, for example, SKYWARN is considered a RACES activity, under the control of the EOC, and the uninitiated or undocumented are not welcome. I've never had them refuse to take a report from me, but I wouldn't be surprised.

    And, the reason they rely on hams so much is that in a busy weather event, they don't have time to answer phone calls from John Q. Public. They accept phone reports from trained spotters, but they may not have time to answer the phone.
  6. W0WFH

    W0WFH Ham Member QRZ Page

    I think COMET is treading on very thin ice. Here in Missouri our three NWB provide Skywarn Classes free
    of charge. These classes are for Hams and the general public. They like for you to be in the Public Safety field or a Ham, just for two way communications. But they also have 800 told free number for people
    that don't have radio's. They also keep track of who has taken Skywarn classes, you physical location
    they give you a Skywarn number and ID. So when you give them a report they can look you up quickly
    It give the the county and physical street location. As our NWS don't want Skywarn people out chasing
    storm but keeping track of what going on from there homes and with enough spotter in a county it doesn't
    require anyone chasing a storm.
    Thank you
    Bill Hudson W0WFH ex wa0kbz
    Linn, Mo.
    PS; I been in the Skywarn program since the mid 1970s

    DUPE-K2CAV QRZ Member QRZ Page

    Great , Easy to understand course, thanks for the information!
  8. AD0IU

    AD0IU XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    @K2CAV - glad you found it useful! For those unfamiliar with the COMET program, a few snippets from their web site:

    "In 1989 the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) and the National Weather Service (NWS) established the Cooperative Program for Operational Meteorology, Education and Training (COMET®) to promote a better understanding of mesoscale meteorology and to maximize the benefits of new weather technologies. "

    "The COMET Program’s mission is to serve as a premier resource that supports, enhances, and stimulates the communication and application of scientific knowledge of the atmospheric and related sciences for the operational and educational communities"

    "The COMET® Program is sponsored by NOAA National Weather Service (NWS), with additional funding by:

    Air Force Weather Agency (AFWA)
    Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BoM)
    Meteorological Service of Canada (MSC)
    National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF)
    National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS)
    NOAA National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service (NESDIS)
    Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command (NMOC)"

  9. N0AZZ

    N0AZZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I live in Missouri also and our NWS does the programs every year in most counties. We have built a sound reputation with the NWS here that during weather events they go direct to our spotters in the field for reports that they use to inform the public also at least 1 TV station does the same.

    The reason for this is all of our spotters are trained by NWS and have a certificate to ever by deployed before that they must do ride alongs for a while with others.
  10. AF8WX

    AF8WX Ham Member QRZ Page

    Sure, why not?

    The government needs to trim expenses and on-line learning, if done right, will accomplish that goal and still give the needed knowledge. I do a lot of on-line training for various certifications, even an aviation safety related certification.

    The goal isn't to turn every weather spotter into a degreed meteorologist, after all.
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