Stormlink seeks severe weather reports

This spring if you observe hail, damaging winds, or a tornado on the ground, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) meteorology researchers and forecasters in Norman want to know about it. For a new research project called StormLink, the public is invited to report severe weather in their area by calling a toll-free number, 1-877-STORM-11 (1-877-786-7611). In the Oklahoma City area, the number is 329-LINK (329-5465). Reports can also be made on-line at: http://www.stormlink.org. The information will be recorded by volunteers and used to improve weather forecasting.

The local verification project is sponsored by NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) and the National Weather Service (NWS) Norman Forecast Office.

“We are asking the public to help us compare what really happens weather-wise with what forecasters thought would happen,” said Amy Wyatt, NSSL meteorological researcher. “When you see hail, damaging winds or a tornado, please call and tell us. By submitting a report, you provide a valuable resource to local meteorologists.”

The spring season experiment began April 1 and will continue through June 30, with a possible extension through this summer. Information recorded includes the type of severe weather activity (hail, damaging winds or a tornado on the ground), exact location, time of observation and details such as hail size or structural damage.

The information gathered will be used in three ways. First, to increase the efficiency of verification of severe weather reports in areas served by the Norman forecast office. This helps National Weather Service forecasters provide more precise severe weather warnings to protect lives and property.

Second, to improve the effectiveness of computer programs developed by researchers at the National Severe Storms Laboratory and used on NEXRAD Doppler radar by the National Weather Service forecasters for severe weather warnings. Finally, to create a real-time severe weather database with information transmitted via e-mail or ham radio to local television meteorologists for short term forecasting.