National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

The SKYWARN Storm Spotter Program was created by the National Weather Service (NWS) to improve warning services. SKYWARN spotters are the Eyes of the NWS.  The NWS needs real-time reports of hail size, wind damage, flash flooding, heavy rain, tornadoes, and waterspouts to effectively warn the public of inclement weather. Even as new technology allows the NWS to issue warnings with more lead time, spotters will always be needed as links between radar indications of severe weather and ground truth. Storm Spotter volunteers serve as severe weather spotters for the NWS and local emergency management programs, and generally have two things in common - an interest in the weather and a desire to serve their community and perhaps save lives.


How to Become a NWS Storm Spotter


1) Attend one of our "Basic Spotter" training classes. There are no fees and no registration is required…just show up and enjoy the training.
2) If you cannot attend one of our in-person training sessions or want to refresh your knowledge, try the Online Storm Spotter Course. You will need to register on the COMET website to access the training. Be sure to follow the instructions in the Course Description section for how to become an official Storm Spotter for the NWS in Columbia, SC.

Hosting a Storm Spotter Training Seminar


To host a Severe Weather Spotter Training seminar, fill out our Outreach Request form.

Contact John Quagliariello
Phone: 803-822-8133


Severe Weather Reports Needed

  • Tornadoes, waterspouts, funnel clouds, rotating wall clouds
  • Hail (any size)
  • Estimated or measured wind speeds of 50 mph or greater
  • Flooding resulting in closed or impassable roads, property damage
  • Rainfall amounts greater than 1 inches per hour
  • Trees downed by wind (including large limbs)
  • Downed power lines or other structural damage caused by wind

When reporting any of these events, use the TEL method…what Time did the event occur, the type of Event, the Location of the event.


Statewide, Regional Amateur and Ham Radio Clubs


Local Skywarn and Spotter Organizations


Amateur Radio Network


NWS Columbia utilizes the 2 meter amateur radio network across central SC and the CSRA to obtain severe weather reports. When a significant severe weather outbreak is anticipated, NWS meteorologists will call in a Net Control to initiate a severe weather net. The Call Sign for NWS Columbia during an organized net is WX4CAE. When calling net control, simply call Columbia Weather. It is not the intent of the net to provide the latest conditions and forecasts. The purpose of the net is to receive reports, not give them. During an active weather net, the operator may monitor the following repeaters.

  • 147.210 MHz - Little Mountain Repeater
  • 145.490 MHz - Trenton Repeater
  • 147.105 MHz - Bishopville Repeater
  • 147.015 MHz - Sumter Reprater
  • 145.450 MHz - Savannah River Site (CSRA Backup)


Additional Information


Upcoming Spotter Classes
Spotter Guide
Thunderstorms, Tornadoes, Lightning...Nature's Most Violent Storms
Sky Watcher Cloud Poster
National SKYWARN Website
SKYWARN Recognition Day
NWS Columbia References (pdf)
NWS Booklets and Brochures


Columbia County Warning Area