When severe weather strikes, some Iowans hit the road to be the eyes and ears of the weather service. Though it’s generally not recommended for people to go out chasing stormy weather, trained spotters with amateur radio licenses perform a valuable service, according to Jim Snap.He’s the person who goes in to the Weather Service office, to take reports from the spotters. Snap’s a ham radio operator himself, but he doesn’t want just anybody trying to chase storms.Training’s essential because stormy weather is dangerous and you must learn not only how to spot it, but how to avoid it. And Snap says you don’t need to get an amateur-radio license to report on severe weather. The weather services encourages particularly rural people to report using the 1-800-“SKYWARN” line. Snap says eyewitness spotters add details radar cannot pick up, especially at a distance. Amateur radio’s changed a lot in recent years, but Snap says it’s still a challenging and rewarding hobby. It combines learning about geography, electronics, science, math and of course getting to know people who share the hobby. Snap says a lot of people who became “hams” at a young age have gone on to use those skills in life or a career like electronics. For more on amateur radio take a look at www.qrz-dot-com.
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