Storm Spotter's Training Guide
Intro to Storm Spotting
What - or who - is a storm spotter or chaser? There are as many answers for this question as there are types of individuals involved in tracking severe weather such as tornadoes and hurricanes. Storm spotters and chasers come from every walk of life: scientists, emergency services personnel, educators, hobbyists, and many others.
Some have a moderate interest in weather and follow information on the radio, television, scanners, or visual observation. They might mention the subject to friends or relatives, but take no further action.
Others go a step further and obtain training as a meteorologist, storm spotter or amateur radio operator. These courageous volunteers donate time to keep their communities safe.
Those with a consuming passion for severe weather watching become storm chasers. They travel many miles, usually at their own expense, photographing and collecting information to help scientists and others learn about severe weather and ways to provide early warning, mitigate property damage, and save lives.
- Storm Chasing FAQ - Frequently asked questions about becoming a storm spotter.
- Storm Chasers Interview - Interview with two storm spotters/chasers about their experiences.
- Chaser Types - The National Association of Storm Chasers and Spotters (NASCAS) official fact sheet on types of chasers and descriptions of their work.
Basic Storm Spotter's Guide
Becoming a storm spotter is easy - contact the emergency services in your community and ask about training. The National Weather Service, American Red Cross, and local amateur radio clubs are another source of educational information. SkyWarn is the official storm spotting training branch of the NWS and provides yearly classes for training and certification.
Becoming a licensed ham radio operator is optional but increases spotters' experience and value. Training in meteorology is helpful but not required. In most states, anyone with an interest in severe weather is eligible to train and become a storm spotter.
- Getting Started in Storm Spotting - Information, links, and resources for beginning spotters.
- Ham Radio - Mobile amateur radio storm chasing site and information.
- How to be a Storm Spotter - Informative article about becoming a storm spotter for the National Weather Service (NWS).
- Meteorology Cloud Boutique - Fact sheet about clouds and their effect on weather.
- NWS Storm Spotters - NWS offers free training for volunteer storm spotters through the Skywarn program.
- Severe Storms Online Module - Free tutorial from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) teaching the basics of storm spotting techniques.
- Storm Spotter Guides - Online guides for basic and advanced severe weather training guides.
- Tornado Project - Website that gathers, complies, and disburses tornado information.
Advanced Storm Spotter's Guide
Advanced storm spotters usually obtain ham radio licenses and take other courses, like meteorology, to aid them in their work. The NWS and other agencies offer many advanced training courses, while some colleges and universities offer courses and college credits for storm spotters. DuPage University features an in-the-field training classes each year for spotters and chasers. Space is limited and the classes fill quickly.
- Advanced Spotters' Field Guide - Everything you need to know about spotting.
- Amateur Radio Information - ARRL (the national association for amateur radio) homepage with information on classes, exams, conferences, and more.
- Amateur Radio Service - Information from the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) about the amateur radio service.
- Forecasting Resources - Links for forecasting software, books, and other resource information.
- Ham Radio Licenses - Fact sheet with step-by-step information on obtaining ham radio licenses.
- Morse Code - Printable worksheet and audio files to help learn morse code quickly.
- Practice Amateur Radio Exams - Practice tests provided by QRZ.com to help people prepare for the licensing examination.
- Spotter Training Schedules - Listing of the NWS 2010 training schedules with dates, times, and locations.
Storm chasers rarely enter the field for money. Most have a desire to learn more about severe weather and appreciate the beauty and raw power of tornadoes and other storms. While some make money by selling photographs, video footage, or printed materials, others may conduct tours and storm chasing vacations. Overall, most would agree they chase storms for other than monetary reasons.
- 2010 National Storm Conference - Information about this free-to-the-public educational conference sponsored by the Texas Severe Storm Association.
- Disaster Center - Information and links about tornadoes and severe weather.
- Discovery Channel Storm Chasers - Watch online or browse information about tornados, vehicles used in the show, and more.
- National Storm Chasers Convention - Official website of ChaserCon 2010 with information about dates, registration, presenters, and other key items.
- Satellite Storm Images - Chase storms from the comfort of home via the Internet.
- Severe Weather Scanning - Links to sites offering severe weather scanning information.
- Storm Chasing Ethics - The do and don'ts of storm chasing.
- Storm Chasers Resources - Links to resources for storm chasers and storm spotters.
- Storm Chasers Trips - Take an adventure-filled trip with experienced storm chasers.
- Storm Highway - Information site featuring a severe weather library, chase logs, and an extreme weather gallery.
- Texas Aggies Storm Chasers (TASC) - Links to information about forecasting, storm chasing, watch warning, and ham radio.
- Tornado and Severe Weather Information - Links to information on tornadoes and other types of severe weather.
- Tornado Chaser - Homepage for storm chaser Tornado Tim Baker with information about tornado weather, statistics, and safety tips.
- Video Tips - Informational article for storm chasers and storm spotters to help them get the best video footage of storms.
- Severe Storm Channel - Live storm casting, videos, and more.
Why do people do storm spotting and chasing?
They have a sincere desire to help others.
They want to prevent weather-related disasters and damage.
Scientific curiosity and the quest for knowledge drive them.
Flirting with possible death and danger entices them.
Journalistic competitiveness sends them after the ultimate new story.
What is your reason?