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The Skywarn® spotter program is a nationwide network of volunteers trained by the National Weather Service (NWS) to report significant weather. Anyone is welcome to participate.
As a trained spotter, you’ll perform an invaluable service for the NWS. Your real-time observations of tornadoes, hail, wind and significant cloud formations will provide a truly reliable information base for severe weather detection and verification.
How does Skywarn® function?
Information is relayed to the NWS during tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, snow storms, flooding, and any other weather event that involves the use of volunteer storm spotters. If you observe rough weather, we want to know about it!
Who will activate Skywarn®?
A NWS office and/or emergency management authorities may activate the Skywarn® net, usually whenever there is a severe weather threat or the forecast office issues a severe thunderstorm watch, tornado watch or flood watch. In this case, information will be relayed through Skywarn’s amateur radio repeater. Also, the NWS’s Hazardous Weather Outlook gives severe weather information and forecasts and determines if Skywarn® activation is needed.
Where are Skywarn® observations taken?
Skywarn® reports are relayed from wherever the weather spotter is - on the road, in the office, or at home. It is important, however, not to jeopardize your own safety while participating in Skywarn®. Spotters should give their reports once they are in a safe location, away from the hazardous weather.
How are Skywarn® and Ham (amateur) radio operators related?
National Weather Service offices have Ham radio equipment on site. A Skywarn® net run by the volunteer amateur radio net control operators allow for reports from the field to be heard directly at the NWS office.
Does it cost anything to join Skywarn®?
Absolutely not! All training that the NWS provides is for the benefit of the weather spotter and his/her community. There is even a toll-free number provided for Skywarn® weather spotters to call and give their reports.
How can I join Skywarn®?
Attend one of the training sessions that take place in the spring and in the fall. The NWS will record your location and contact information and will provide you with the knowledge of what to report on and when to report.
Points of contact for additional information on the Skywarn® program: