Tonight I attended a class to become a National Weather Service storm spotter under the SKYWARN program.

The training was held at the Newport News Emergency Operations Center (EOC). Joe Safranek, K4JJS, helped coordinate with the NWS to get one of their meteorologist from the Wakefield, VA office to conduct the class. There were a lot of hams there – coming from Williamsburg, Newport News, and Hampton. The training focused on severe weather – lightning, thunderstorms, hail, and tornadoes. I got to learn what conditions lead to forming a thunderstorm and how tornadoes are created. All in all, it was pretty interesting. I know have my Storm Spotter qualification and am suppose to contact the NWS at Wakefield if there is severe weather activity around where I live and work.

The ham radio piece comes in to play in case a big storm comes through and knocks out power and telephone lines. At that point, as weather spotters, we’d pass our reports over a local VHF repeater, which would then go to the NWS.