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Tornado Spotters - Windows to the Universe
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Tornado Lookouts

Meteorologists use radar to forecast where tornadoes might form. But, the radar can't detect actual tornadoes. People are needed to do that.

The National Weather Service can't rely on tornado reports from people off the street. These people don't have any training so they may not actually see what they think they see. Instead, the Weather Service offers classes that anyone can take to become part of SKYWARN, a network of trained volunteer spotters. Meteorologists can feel confident about the accuracy of the spotter reports. If a tornado is spotted, they can issue a tornado warning with a good degree of confidence.

Storm spotters are different that storm chasers. Spotters work in organized networks to observe and confirm severe weather events for the NWS and for local emergency managers. They also only operate in a limited area, usually their county.

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