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Members of the Loudon County A.R.E.S. act as severe weather spotters through the Skywarn Program for the local National Weather Service office, located in Morristown, TN. Weather spotters form nets when severe weather occurs in the area and information such as severe weather conditions and storm damage reports are relayed to the National Weather Service through the nets. This information helps the forecasters in determining the intensity and track of severe weather and it aids in the issuing of severe weather warrings that save lives.

Severe Weather Reporting Criteria1
    Urgent Priority
  • Tornado
  • Funnel cloud
  • Rotating wall cloud
  • Flash flooding
    High Priority
  • Hail 3/4-inch diameter or larger
  • Wind speed greater than 58 m.p.h.
  • Persistent non-rotating wall cloud
  • Rainfall 1 inch or more per hour
    Lower Priority
  • Hail 1/2-inch diameter or larger
  • Wind speed greater than 40 m.p.h.
  • Cloud features suggesting storm organization
  • Other locally-defined criteria

    Estimating Wind Speed2 (Report winds in excess of 58 m.p.h.)
  • 25-31 m.p.h. - Large branches in motion, whistling heard in telephone wires
  • 32-38 m.p.h. - Whole trees in motion; inconvenience felt walking against wind
  • 39-54 m.p.h. - Twigs break off trees; wind generally impedes progress
  • 55-72 m.p.h. - SEVERE CATEGORY; Damage to chimneys and TV antennas; pushes over shallow rooted trees
  • 73-112 m.p.h. - Peels surface off roofs; windows broken; light trailer homes pushed or overturned; moving automobiles pushed off roads
  • 113-157 m.p.h. - Roofs torn off houses; weak buildings and trailer homes destroyed; large trees snapped and uprooted
  • 158 m.p.h. and up - Severe damage; cars lifted off ground

    Estimating Hail Size Diameter2 (Severe = 3/4 inch or larger)
  • Pea Size - 1/4 inch
  • Smaller than Dime Size - 1/2 inch
  • Dime Size - 3/4 inch
  • Quarter Size - 1 inch
  • Golf Ball Size - 1 3/4 inch
  • Tennis Ball Size - 2 1/2 inch
  • Baseball Size - 2 3/4 inch
  • Grapefruit Size - 4 inch
  • *** Please DO NOT use the phrase "marble size" when describing hail because marbles come in different sizes. If the hail is smaller than a dime, simply say just that. ***

    Rainfall2
  • Report rainfall that occurs at a rate of 1 inch per hour, or 2 inches or more in 24 hours.


For more information on the Loudon County A.R.E.S.' Skywarn program and training, please contact Chuck, KE4OAR.

For a list of Skywarn related links, see our Page of Links.


1Cited from the Basic Spotters' Field Guide, N.O.A.A. PA 97050.
2Adapted from N.O.A.A. Handout

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