The National Weather Service and How It Impacts Our Lives

The National Weather Service and How It Impacts Our Lives

The National Weather Service is the federal agency responsible for monitoring weather conditions across the United States.


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Earth Science, Meteorology, Geography

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Tracking the weather across the whole United States is a big job. That is why there is the National Weather Service (NWS). This is a government organization. It keeps track of the weather.

The NWS makes predictions about the weather. They are called weather forecasts. A forecast can tell us about possible future weather events. It lets us know if it will be rainy or sunny. You might see these forecasts on the TV news. Or you might see them on a weather app.

The NWS is located in the U.S. state of Maryland. It sends out as many as 1.5 million forecasts a year.

Providing Weather Information

The NWS has nearly 5,000 employees. It operates all day and night. It provides warnings about heat, cold, thunderstorms, and tornadoes. Weather forecasters use these weather warnings. They also use NWS maps to make their own forecasts.

The NWS watches for upcoming weather events. Knowing about dangerous weather ahead of time can save lives. In 2013, the National Weather Service predicted stormy weather in Oklahoma. This was five days before a tornado hit the state. Then, 30 minutes before the tornado touched down, the NWS issued a tornado warning. Twenty-four people died. But without the warning, many more could have died.

Knowing Local Weather

Watching the weather is a big job. The NWS has 122 offices. They are located all across the United States. This includes Alaska and Hawai'i. Each office focuses on weather in its nearby counties. The NWS forecasters also live where other Americans do. They know about the weather patterns in their area.

The NWS also watches recreation spots. These include mountains, lakes, and beaches. These areas can be tricky. Winds, storms, or heat can act differently near mountains or water. This can create unusual weather.

So, the NWS has stations and webcams in these places. They show the weather in real-time.

Forecasts can also warn people about bad weather conditions. Some examples include winds and high waves.

Media Credits

The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.

Tyson Brown, National Geographic Society
National Geographic Society
Production Managers
Gina Borgia, National Geographic Society
Jeanna Sullivan, National Geographic Society
Program Specialists
Sarah Appleton, National Geographic Society, National Geographic Society
Margot Willis, National Geographic Society
Clint Parks
Last Updated

October 19, 2023

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