Reporting Severe Weather
Tornadoes, hail, strong winds, flooding...the National Weather Service is responsible for issuing warnings for many types of severe weather. NWS has many tools to help them anticipate and warn for these hazards. However, ground truth reports of actual weather events always have, and always will, depend on reports from human observers.
That is where the National Weather Service POP (Public Observation Program) computer comes in. By calling a toll-free number in Maine, you can be an important link in the weather forecast process.
Remember this phone number! It serves as a link to the Weather Service's most important source of information during severe weather...YOU!
When you call from a touch-tone phone, you will be connected to the POP computer. The computer will then ask you a series of questions. These questions will help identify the type and severity of weather which you are reporting. When your call is completed, the POP computer will alert the NWS staff to the presence of a new report.
Assuming that there are no problems, your report will then be sent out to the world...and may be heard on NOAA Weather Radio, local radio and TV stations, and who knows, maybe even the Weather Channel! It will also be seen on the Internet (see the link to "Real-time Storm Summaries" below).
One important note...the computer will ask you to input your phone number when you make a report. It is very important that the Weather Service has a way to verify the report and call you for additional information if necessary. You will NEVER be called for any purpose other than to verify a report. Also, NWS respects the importance of your privacy. Your phone number and any other personal information will NEVER leave the NWS forecast office.
When should you call?
Call, when it is safe to do so, if you observe any of the following:
- Tornado or funnel cloud
- Strong winds (55-60 MPH or greater) or wind damage (structural damage or trees/power lines down)
- Hail the size of pennies (3/4 inch diameter) or larger
- Stream flooding, street flooding, or streams approaching bankfull
- Snowfall of 3 inches or more
Remember, first ensure that you are safe.
So next time the weather is really nasty, don't just talk about the weather, do something about it! Give the National Weather Service a call and let them know what's happening in your area.
Please remember the phone number to report severe weather anywhere in Maine:
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are a trained Skywarn spotter, please use the toll-free number given to you at your training session. The POP is more appropriate for use by the general public.
If you are interested in becoming a trained Skywarn spotter, contact the National Weather Service Forecast Office nearest you. Links to the Gray and Caribou Forecast Offices are listed below. Skywarn spotters receive special training, and agree to provide local weather data to the NWS on a regular basis.
For More Information
- NWS: Real-time Local Storm Summaries for Maine
- National Weather Service Forecast Office, Gray, Maine
- National Weather Service Forecast Office, Caribou, Maine
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