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About Amateur (aka "Ham") Radio:
“When all else fails…” is more than just words to ham radio operators; as they proven many times over during events such as Hurricane Katrina and the Joplin tornado's that they can send and receive communication in many forms without the use of phone systems, internet, or any other infrastructure that can be compromised in a crisis. Ham radio operators are federally licensed individuals than have technical knowledge of communication and equipment. They can, and often times do, carry full two-way conversations with the other side of the world using about the same amount of power as your typical box fan, ceiling fan, or old VCR.
What is SKYWARN
The effects of severe weather are felt every year by many Americans. To obtain critical weather information, NOAA's National Weather Service (NWS), part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, established SKYWARN® with partner organizations.
SKYWARN® is a volunteer program with nearly 290,000 trained severe weather spotters. These volunteers help keep their local communities safe by providing timely and accurate reports of severe weather to the National Weather Service.
Although SKYWARN® spotters provide essential information for all types of weather hazards, the main responsibility of a SKYWARN® spotter is to identify and describe severe local storms.
In the average year, 10,000 severe thunderstorms, 5,000 floods and more than 1,000 tornadoes occur across the United States. These events threatened lives and property.
Since the program started in the 1970s, the information provided by SKYWARN® spotters, coupled with Doppler radar technology, improved satellite and other data, has enabled NWS to issue more timely and accurate warnings for tornadoes, severe thunderstorms and flash floods.
SKYWARN® storm spotters are part of the ranks of citizens who form the Nation's first line of defense against severe weather. There can be no finer reward than to know that their efforts have given communities the precious gift of time--seconds and minutes that can help save lives.
- Written by Brad Bailey
- Category: Public Interest