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What is Skywarn™?

Skywarn™ is a nationwide network of volunteer weather spotters who report to and are trained by the National Weather Service (NWS). These spotters report many forms of significant or severe weather such as severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, hail, heavy snow, and flooding.

The staff at NWS Forecast Office Albany are responsible for issuing local forecasts and severe weather warnings for much of eastern New York, southern Vermont, the Berkshires of western Massachusetts and Litchfield County Connecticut. Skywarn™ Spotters provide an invaluable service by providing ground truth so we can correlate what is seen on radar to what is actually occurring, help warn downstream communities, add value to our statements and warnings, and to verify forecasts and warnings. Spotters act as our eyes and ears helping us provide better services

Download the Skywarn™ Flyer


Check out the National Skywarn™ Page & National Skywarn™ Recognition Day

How to Join?

It is easy. All that it is required is attending a free training session. The training sessions are offered during the year mainly during the spring and fall. The sessions are announced on NOAA Weather Radio and are posted on our web page, Facebook and Twitter.

Alternative Training on-line training - course covers the basics of being a Skywarn™ Spotter

Please contact us with your completed certificates.

How else can I be involved?

Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow NetworkCoCoRaHS


Skywarn™ - Reporting


Safety is the top priority for the SKYWARN Weather Spotter program. The NWS does not encourage its SKYWARN weather spotters to engage in storm chasing. However, the NWS does recognize that SKYWARN spotters, engaged in mobile activities, may encounter severe weather and should be alert to rapidly changing weather conditions that could impact personal safety.

  • Personal safety is the primary objective of every spotter.  Never put yourself in harm’s way.  This includes attempting to walk or drive over obstructions such as flooded roadways and downed power lines, and positioning yourself under objects that have a potential to fall or be blown over due to severe weather.

The spotter network is usually activated whenever there is a threat of severe weather, this is usually preceded by the issuance of a Severe Thunderstorm Watch, Tornado Watch, Flood Watch or some other type of watch. Spotters are asked to report any occurrence of severe weather to your Skywarn™ EC, Skywarn™ Net Controller or directly to us at the NWS by the telephone, a web report, a mobile report, Facebook or Twitter.  If you see any of the following, please let us know!

  • Tornadoes, Water Spouts, Funnel Clouds and Wall Clouds (either rotating or not)

  • Damaging Winds that down trees, large limbs and power poles/lines or any wind producing property damage

  • Hail any size

  • Lightning that produces damage, injury or death

  • Flooding, Ice Jams, Bankfull Rivers/Streams

  • Measured Rainfall that exceeds 1 to 1 1/2 inches in a 4-hour period

  • Freezing Rain (all occurrences)

  • Snowfall

  • Any other event that you feel may help us determine the severity of storms


Reference Materials


National Weather Service Albany SKYWARN™ Operations Manual

Operations Manual

Appendix A

Appendix B

Appendix C

Appendix D


NWS Products and Services Reference Guidebook

Weather Spotter's Field Guide

Other Publications,  Brochures & Booklets


Emergency Manager & Storm Spotter Magazine StormBuster

Be READY. Plan, Prepare, Stay Informed

Federal Emergency Management Agency


Print your Skywarn™ Spotter card