Hazardous Weather Outlook
SKYWARN is a concept developed in the early 1970s intended to promote a cooperative effort between the National Weather Service (NWS) and communities. The National Weather Service uses a tremendous amount of technology (e.g., radar, satellite, etc.) to monitor changing weather conditions. All of this technology, however, does have its limitations. For example, the NWS radar tower at Chanhassen cannot see anything occurring in Waseca County below 5,000 feet. Because of this limitation, the NWS must rely on first-hand accounts of weather conditions. SKYWARN provides additional eyes to the NWS.
Waseca County SKYWARN is not a club, but an organization of enthusiasts with interests in the areas of severe weather spotting. SKYWARN has long been associated with amateur radio, but participation in SKYWARN does not require an amateur radio license. SKYWARN spotters can communicate by radio, telephone and internet. Amateur radio, however, is an efficient method of communication with surrounding counties and the NWS.
Spotters are trained to safely report weather conditions (wind gusts, hail size, rainfall, and cloud formations that could signal a developing tornado). Operating from the Waseca County Emergency Operations Center, Waseca County SKYWARN is the central point for the receipt and distribution of information. Information is exchanged with the NWS, 911 Dispatch Center, local media outlets, surrounding SKYWARN organizations, and other emergency management agencies.
SKYWARN spotters are not “storm chasers.” Storm spotting is dangerous and should not be done without proper training, experience and equipment.
In Waseca County, SKYWARN is a part of the Waseca County Emergency Management volunteer network. Annual SKYWARN trainings are held each Spring.
For those who volunteer as on-call SKYWARN Spotters, Waseca County Spotter meetings are held monthly March – September. Meetings take place at the Waseca County Emergency Operations Center meeting room, 122 3rd Avenue NW (lower level). For more information call 507-835-0694.