The National Weather Service (NWS) established SKYWARNÂ® in the 1970â€™s as a volunteer program. SKYWARN volunteers help to keep their local communities safe with real time spotter assessment/Damage a reports to the NWS.
SKYWARN spotters work in all kinds of weather but locally are most active with severe thunderstorms and tornadoes as these types of storms change rapidly and cause major damage and loss of life. SKYWARN spotter reports tell the NWS whatâ€™s happening at the ground level. The NWS radar beam is essentially a straight line out from the NWS office and since the Earth is curved the radar beam shoots higher into the sky as it travels away from the radar location due to the Earths curve. At Frankfort, IN about 36 miles away from the NWS radar location the radar beam is at 2686 feet above the ground and goes higher as you get further away from the radar location thus the need for ground reports. Essentially the beam can not see what is happening at Frankfort, IN from the ground up to 1/2 mile up in the sky.
The SKYWARN PROGRAM is open to anyone who wants to volunteer to be a trained weather spotter. The local NWS office in Indianapolis, Indiana offers local classes free of charge during the spring of each year. Each class is about two hours long and is taught by a member of the NWS. In addition the NWS has a online video course at http://www.crh.noaa.gov/ind/INDSpotter/player.html that can be taken free of charge.
Check back here in January to see the NWS Class Schedule for the local area.