Phoenix Weather Spotter Program


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NWS Phoenix Weather Spotter Program
Southeast California, Southwest and South Central Arizona

NWS personnel regularly conduct spotter training sessions at remote locations around the Phoenix 

County Warning Area. Severe weather spotter training for new and existing volunteer spotters will 

be conducted by the National Weather Service Phoenix Forecast Office at the times and locations

 shown below.

Free training classes are held periodically that teach people how to properly identify and report

 significant weather phenomena and contribute to public safety. Even with sophisticated technology

 like radar and satellites, we still need ground truth information from trained weather spotters

 throughout the year. You will learn about how thunderstorms work, how to identify cloud features

 associated with microbursts and tornadoes, visually estimate wind speeds, and how your reports tie

 in to warnings and advisories issued by the National Weather Service. In addition, you will learn

 about all of the services available from the National Weather Service. Reservations are not required

 unless otherwise noted.

Schedule updated: Mon May 17 15:20:57 GMT 2010. Check back often for updates.

Spotter Program Overview

2011 Class Schedule
DateCityCountyLocationAddressTimeRemarks/Registration [if needed]Instructor(s)
Thu Mar 24GilbertMaricopaGilbert Fire Dept Admin85 E Civic Center Dr7:00 pmRegistration to Kim Yonda 480-503-6325 or E-MailGary
Sat Mar 26GlendaleMaricopaGlendale Regional Public Safety Training Center11550 W Glendale Ave1:00 pmRegistration to Veronica Steele 623-872-5090 or E-MailAustin
Sat Apr 2Queen CreekMaricopaQueen Creek Library22350 S Ellsworth Rd10:00 amRegistration to Jon Spezzacatena at 480-358-3028 or E-MailTBD
Thu Apr 7MesaMaricopaMesa Utilities Bldg640 N Mesa Dr7:00 pmTo Register send e-mail to OrionTBD
Sat Apr 9GlobeGilaGila County Emergency Services5515 S Apache Ave10:00 amRegistration to Leana Asberry 928-402-8805 or E-MailAustin
Wed Apr 13PeoriaMaricopaPublic Safety Admin Bldg8351 W Cinnabar Ave7:00 pmNoneAustin
Thu Apr 14AvondaleMaricopaAvondale Fire Admin Bldg1825 N 107th Ave6:30 pmNoneAustin
Tue Apr 19Casa GrandePinalCasa Grande Fire Training Facility3305 N Piper Ave7:00 pmNoneKen or Gary
Tue May 3ChandlerMaricopaChandler Fire Dept HQ151 E. Boston St7:00 pmTo Register send e-mail to: ChandlerAustin
Sat May 14SurpriseMaricopaSurprise Fire Dept14250 W Statler Plaza Ste 10110:00 amTo Register send e-mail to: AustinPaul
Tue May 17WickenburgMaricopaWickenburg Fire Station734 W Wickenburg Way6:30 pmTBDPaul
Sat May 21AvondaleMaricopaCity Hall1825 N 107th Ave10:00 amADVANCED CLASS *; To register send e-mail to: AustinTBD
Tue Jun 7GilbertMaricopaGilbert Fire Dept Admin85 E Civic Center Dr7:00 pmADVANCED CLASS *Registration to Kim Yonda 480-503-6325 or E-MailTBD

The training classes will prepare the volunteer spotter to identify the development stages of severe

 thunderstorms, as well as downbursts, desert flash flooding, and tornadoes. The observed information

 is relayed to the NWS via telephone or amateur radio. The NWS uses the information in severe

 weather warnings and statements, that ultimately save lives and protect property.

Adult volunteers are community spirited individuals, who understand that they play an essential role

 in providing storm information to the National Weather Service. Spotters are also hikers, sports and

 outdoor enthusiasts, and those who routinely work outdoors.

If you have any questions, please contact Ken Waters at 602-275-0073 [option '5'] or by e-mail at the

 NWS Phoenix Forecast Office.

We especially need new spotters who are year-round residents of the remote areas of our County

 Warning Area (CWA), which includes Maricopa, Yuma, La Paz, Riverside, Imperial, northwest Pinal

, and southern Gila counties!




When significant, or severe weather occurs anywhere within the Phoenix County

 Warning Area, the Weather Service turns to the SkywarnTM Spotter Network to obtain

 timely and accurate reports. This network is comprised of individuals or groups,

 generally associated with the following: 1) Emergency Service Organizations

 (Fire, Police, etc), 2) Volunteer Organizations (HAM Radio, etc), 3) Individual Citizens,

 4) Cooperative Observers.

Be sure to check out the National SkywarnTM Homepage to get the national perspective.

The Arizona SkywarnTM Net (ASN) welcomes trained spotters to check into our weekly

 nets on these repeaters:

  • 147.200 mhz  --  each Tuesday at 8 pm

  • 442.800/442.850 mhz  --  each Wednesday at 8 pm

Storm spotters are specially trained by NWS personnel to be able to recognize and

 report severe and unusual weather occurrences. When this occurs, they phone their

 reports into the NWS office having warning responsibility for their county. Spotters in

 Southern Gila, La Paz, Maricopa, Northwest Pinal, Yuma, Imperial CA and Eastern

 Riverside CA counties should contact the Phoenix forecast office. Spotters in Apache,

 Coconino, Navajo, Northern Gila and Yavapai counties should call the Flagstaff office.

 Spotters located in Southeast Pinal, Pima, Santa Cruz, Cochise, Graham and Greenlee

 counties should contact the Tucson office. Finally, spotters in Mohave county should

 call the Las Vegas Weather Service Office.

Spotters should tell personnel at the responsible office briefly WHAT they saw or are

 seeing, WHERE they are or where they were when it was going on, WHEN it was

 occurring and WHAT is/was it doing. They should also include their name, location

 and their assigned spotter ID number.


The following are examples of weather phenomena that commonly lead to or depict

 severe weather. In most cases, what is seen below occurs during the Monsoon, or the

 summer thunderstorm season which typically runs from July 4 through September 15.

microburst photo
Downburst Hazards.   Downburst winds can exceed 100 mph and are capable of doing the same damage as a weak to strong tornado. Rapidly shifting wind direction and changes in visibility pose problems to mobile spotters. (Photo by Alan Moller)

overshooting tops photo
Overshooting Top.   An overshooting top, an indicator of a potential severe thunderstorm, is evident as the "bubble" of cloud material rising above the rest of the storm. The area underneath the overshooting top is the area of strongest updraft, and is the preferred area for severe weather formation. (Photo courtesy of Bill Martin

haboob photo

Haboob.  A haboob is a violent dust or sandstorm occurring on the southwest deserts of Arizona. It depicts the leading edge, or gust front, of an approaching storm, and wind speeds can exceed 60 mph!

Although tornadoes are rare during the Monsoon, they can and do occur. There is a 

misconception that highway underpasses are a safe shelter for those caught in the

 path of a tornado. This is not the case! The following presentation "Highway

 Underpasses as Tornado Shelters" explains why this is so - this is an excellent

 presentation. Check it out!


The following criteria are what spotters should look for when phoning in their reports.

 They should always call the responsible Weather Service Office when any of the below

 are noted:

  1. TORNADO (on the ground) or FUNNEL CLOUD (tail not touching the ground)


  3. WIND (estimated or measured at 40 mph or more)

  4. MICROBURST (visually identified)

  5. RAINFALL (1/2 inch (.50) or more in 30 minutes)

  6. FLOODING (of any kind)

  7. DAMAGE and/or DEATHS and/or INJURIES due to the weather event

  8. HAIL (any size diameter, or greater)

  9. VISIBILITY (less than 1/2 mile due to fog, dust, blowing snow or ash)





Please visit our Weather Spotter Training Page for scheduled classes.

Adult SKYWARNTM volunteers are community spirited individuals, who understand

 that they play an essential role in providing storm information to the National Weather

 Service. Spotters are also hikers, sports and outdoor enthusiasts, and those who

 routinely work outdoors. Many volunteer spotters are amateur radio operators and

 participate in a special amateur radio network during severe weather.

If you have any questions, please contact either Steve Sipple at 602-275-7002 ext 537,

 or Ken Waters - 602-275-7002 ext 223 - at the NWS Phoenix Forecast Office. Please

 call during business hours only - 7 am to 330 pm M-F. They will be happy to answer

 them for you!

** We especially need new spotters in the remote areas of our County Warning

 Area (CWA), which includes Maricopa, northwest Pinal, and southern Gila counties!


For all links on spotter programs goto                                                                                                                                     

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