Many weather phenomena as well as their impacts and damage on the ground are reported in real time or immediately after the event by means of weather reports. Within the framework of the Trusted Spotter Network Austria, all reporters can be trained to become particularly trustworthy observers. All weather and impact reporting parameters as well as the training and competence levels of the observers will be comparable throughout Europe.
A large number of automatic weather stations at the Austrian national weather service ZAMG can measure temperature, air pressure, wind direction and strength and other atmospheric variables with high accuracy. The actual effects of weather, especially extreme weather on the ground such as storm damage, hailstones, tornadoes, avalanches, mudflows or rockfall, black ice, forest fires and others cannot be measured with automatic weather stations. Human observations are still necessary for this purpose.
Any person can report the weather with mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets, regardless of time and place. No need to download or install a native smartphone app! Activate the mobile data connection and the automatic localization of your device, call up www.wettermelden.at in your browser and select the appropriate reporting parameter with the plus symbol. A photo always helps to better describe the impacts of the weather. If required, also add a describing text message, send the report, done. See the following brief instructions.
All persons who can operate a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet are recommended to participate from around 12 years of age. Weather is on everyone's interest, many of us are even more interested weather enthusiasts. Extreme weather events in particular affect our society and thus directly affect our everyday lives and modern society. Such extreme events, but also extraordinary weather phenomena motivate many people to share their experiences with others in different ways. With the web app wettermelden.at we would like to offer an independent platform for documenting weather and weather impacts and at the same time generate added value for the national public weather service and science.
Neither to operate the web app weatherreport.at nor for correct reporting any preceding knowledge is needed. Our web app wettermelden.at can be used largely self-explanatory, each individual reporting parameter is directly described in short keywords. For those, with deeper interest in weather, the national Austrian weather service ZAMG offers a specific training programme for voluntary weather observers, the Trusted Spotter Network Austria.
The Trusted Spotter Network Austria, TSN, started in 2009 as a cooperation between SKYWARN AUSTRIA, the European Severe Storms Laboratory ESSL in the form of the European Severe Weather Database ESWD and the Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics ZAMG.
At a later stage, amateur radio operators of the Austrian Association of Experimental Broadcasters (ÖVSV) also participated as Amateur Radio Spotters (ARS) and Trusted Spotters. At present, TSN is open to all weather enthusiasts, independent of membership to an organization. So what makes TSN unique in Europe?
First of all, the training: ZAMG offers a visiting and training programme (job shadowing) at all ZAMG customer service regional centres for all graduates of the basic training. Here the Trusted Spotter receives individual training and is thus sensitized to the needs of forecasters during warning situations and further trained in recognizing the effects of the weather on the ground correctly.
For this activity, the spotter (weather observer, stationary) or chaser (thunderstorm chaser, mobile) has access to real-time weather information via a ZAMG data portal, the interpretation of which is also the subject of training. Depending on the level of training of the observers, individual messages in the database can be distinguished on the basis of competence and reliability:
Through lectures, case studies, damage analyses and intensive technical discussions, the workshops provide extensive scientific exchange, which always benefits both, weather enthusiasts and full-time meteorologists.
ZAMG is also engaged in the national and international standardization of human weather and impact reports. All reporting parameters are identical to those of the ESSL - EWOB database and can be exchanged in real-time between all levels (nationally and internationally) via APIs. Reported weather damages above a specific damage threshold are transferred to the internationally standardized, scientific European Servere Weather Database (ESWD).
Also, reliability levels of individual reporters based on their respective training levels are internationally comparable and thus can be exchanged between databases. This interoperability of weather and impact observations and reports is of particularly high scientific value for estimating long-term climate- and severe weather trends.
In its cooperation between the national weather service, weather enthusiasts and science, the TSN is unique in Europe and in this context regarded as "best practice" by the European Meteorological Society EMS.
Current weather and impact reports reach forecasters in real time and help to improve impact-related weather forecasts and warnings. The human weather and impact messages provide reliable information on the so-called "ground truth". This instantaneous feedback loop provides reports to the ZAMG duty forecaster within seconds from being sent via the app. Thus observers communicate directly if their forecast is correct at the time and place or if their weather warning correctly estimated the intensity of a storm. Ideally, weather warnings are adapted immediately to avoid unexpected damage or even injuries.
Also, weather and impact reports serve as a basis for case studies and climatological evaluations of extreme weather events and their damage. In this way, the frequency of extreme weather events and the vulnerability of our society to weather damage will be recorded more precisely. All Austrian weather and impact reports will be stored in a national ZAMG database and made available in exchange with other European national weather services in anonymized form for warnings and research.
Standardization and quality management of the reports enable other automatic applications such as the analysis of cloud photos or data assimilation in impact-, nowcasting- and forecast models. Reports on damage caused by thunderstorms provide the basis for further, more in-depth forensic analyses of down gusts or tornadoes. These application examples show the importance of the training and reliability of the individual spotter. Received images and videos support outreach and public relations activities shortly after an extreme weather event.
Weather reporters without training:
Weather reporters with training: