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4/15/19 - Gavin GrothSpotter Network, or Skywarn? What is the best weather spotting platform?
Some people interested in becoming a weather spotter might question what spotter platform they should join. The two largest spotting programs in the U.S. are Skywarn, and Spotter Network. I'll start of by saying that these are not competing platforms, and both have different purposes and a lot of it is based off of preference. Skywarn is larger and is officially ran by the NWS, they boast over 350,000 trained weather spotters. While still large but not near the level of Skywarn, I estimate Spotter Network to have 73,000 active spotters. (This number was hard to gauge and partly based it off the number of people in Member Networks.) When it comes to quality of storm reports, I tend to think that Spotter Network has the most detailed and accurate reports, this is in part due to the guidelines that Spotter Network required when submitting a report. That's not to say in any way the reports for Skywarn are bad, in fact both can offer some great insight to what is happening. For ease of use, I would generally say that Skywarn wins, it has a fairly decent reporting system and seeing reports are quite easy. Spotter Network can have a lot of hoops to jump through in order to successfully submit a report. NWS generally adds spotter reports from both platforms around the same amount. Spotter Network is more serious in the terms that your role is a weather spotter, not a storm chaser or weather expert. I think Skywarn can be serious but it seems like people think that being a weather spotter means you are a storm chaser or a expert in weather studies. Overall I personally prefer Spotter Network, because I prefer a smaller community and more serious weather reports. But I recommend enrolling in both just so you can figure out your personal preference.
*As a side note, and to prevent confusion I would just like to say that in no way are these two programs competitors, in fact they endorse each other. And most if not all of the members in Spotter Network, are a part of Skywarn.
11/7/18 - Gavin Groth2018, Lookback at Severe Weather.
We saw a overall below average year in terms of severe weather this past year. according to the NOAA's Annual Severe Weather Report Summary, total severe weather storms (including tornados, hail, and, wind storms) where down 26% from 2017. Tornados also droped 33% from 2017, wind storms were down 10%, and hail storms where down 25%. Nobody can really say whether this is coincidental, or it had something to due with the late start to spring across much of the midwest. When you don't have ingredients for storms (moisture, instabibilaty, lift and, shear) you can't get the supercells you need to produce rotation, and ultimatly tornados.
Photo Courtesy:National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center