#kywx: Trained Spotter for NWS Louisville

"The fear was overpowering and brought with it nausea. Haunting sirens wailed ominously, creating goosebumps. The only comfort was a lone candle flickering in the dark and the voice of a weather radio as the house endured the assault of wind, rain, hail and debris..."

Having once greatly feared severe weather, I discovered courage though knowledge. In 2011, I became certified as a trained Skywarn spotter, proudly receiving my certificate in 2013. I regularly contribute photography, some of which has been credited on Weather.gov. I report to the NWS in Louisville, KY and also volunteer daily precipitation reports to CoCoRaHS as often as possible. I hope to one day photograph tornadoes out west, far away from life and property. I also contribute data to the Nature's Notebook Cloned Lilac & Dogwood program via USA National Phenology Network.

What is Skywarn & CoCoRaHS?

Skywarn is a volunteer program consisting of trained weather spotters. Their reports help save the lives & protect the properties of those in their local & surrounding communities. Their data helps improve forecast & warning systems. Requirements: Understand & properly interpret current, impending & past weather conditions. Properly & timely submit eye witness reports to NWS or local law enforcement for relay to NWS & local media outlets. Encourage & promote weather safety while also maintaining personal safety. Contribute resources & time unpaid while providing support & assistance to the community.

CoCoRaHS is a national network of volunteers who take ran, snow & hail measurements daily & contribute data to the CoCoRaHS network. This data is vital for research & alert purposes. Anyone can participate regardless of age or employment status. Volunteers are needed!! Requirements: CoCoRaHS approved rain gauge, ($30.25 weatheryourway.com), wood post to 'install' per guidelines (must be away from buildings), daily internet access, read decimal measurements and ability to report data daily (preferably 7am-9am).

How can you be safe during severe weather?

The first priority is to verify your exact location on map. By knowing your exact location, you can improve your chances of surviving potentially fatal weather events such as a tornadoes. Find your location using a map service such as Google Maps. Verify your surroundings via satellite view. Then utilize a radar to monitor the storm's location. Never rely completely on one radar. A feed could be delayed and a tornado could already be there! Always use multiple radar sources & pay attention to your local meteorologists. Just because the radar doesn't show a 'hook echo' or similar signs of severity, it doesn't mean you're 'off the hook'. Never risk it!

I'm often asked how or why I do what I do. The why, is obvious. I am intrigued by the beauty & science of weather. I wish to capture it for educational & artistic purposes. How I capture weather is via education & luck. The most important thing to remember is the dangers presented when photographing severe weather. You could die. I'm blunt because your safety matters. Sure that gloriously awesome lightning bolt would make a fabulous photo, but never is a photo worth your life. NEVER drive into water and never 'chase' without the proper training. Be safe!

Weather Links

Report Severe Weather in Kentucky:

  • Facebook: Louisville NWS
  • Twitter:  Follow @NWSLouisville‪. Tweet reports using #‎lmkspotter‬ or #kywx. Follow* local meteorologists on Twitter
  • Call your local emergency manager, law enforcement or 911.

Learn More: NWS Skywarn | CoCoRAHS | Skywarn.org
Safety: Weather.gov/safety | Turn Around Don't Drown
Radar: Weather.gov imapweather.com

*Follow your local news/weather stations on social media, but do not rely upon social media for emergency updates.


These PDF files should NEVER be used as a guide to be a 'storm chaser'. Severe weather is deadly!! These guides were designed to assist trained storm spotters with reporting severe weather for saving life and property.

Source: NWS.gov

Interested in becoming a trained spotter? NWS Louisville's Online Skywarn Training >

"Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky". -Rabindranath Tagore



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