The SKYWARN Storm Spotter Program was created by the National Weather Service (NWS) to improve warning services. 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.
How to Become a NWS Storm Spotter
1) Attend one of our "Basic Spotter" training classes. Check the latest Storm Spotter Training Schedule to see if a class is scheduled near you.
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 Charleston, SC.
Contact Ron Morales, Warning Coordination Meteorologist
Phone: 843-744-0303 ext. 223
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 2 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, it's very important to tell us WHEN and WHERE they occurred. For geographic reference, an intersection and town are very useful so we can pinpoint the report. If it's a second or third hand report, please give us the source of the original report, along with all the applicable information about what was reported.
See our Weather Spotter Quick Reference Card for a lot of useful information.
Please report the size of the largest hailstones as they cause the most damage. Also, please do not use the term "marble size" or "ice cube" since these items come in many different sizes.
- 0.25 inch - Pea
- 0.50 inch - Dime
- 0.75 inch - Penny
- 0.88 inch - Nickel
- 1.00 inch - Quarter
- 1.25 inch - Half Dollar
- 1.50 inch - Ping-Pong Ball
- 1.75 inch - Golf Ball
- 2.00 inch - Hen Egg
- 2.50 inch - Tennis Ball
- 2.75 inch - Baseball
- 3.00 inch - Tea Cup
- 4.00 inch - Grapefruit
- 4.50 inch - Softball
- 25-31 mph: Large branches in motion; whistling heard in power lines.
- 32-38 mph: Whole trees in motion; inconvenience felt walking into the wind.
- 39-55 mph: Twigs break off trees; wind generally impedes progress.
- 56-72 mph: Damage to chimneys and TV antennas; shallow-rooted trees blown over.
- 73-112 mph: Surface of roofs peeled away; windows broken; mobile homes pushed or overturned; moving cars pushed off roads.
- 113-157 mph: Roofs torn off; weak buildings and mobile homes destroyed; large trees snapped and uprooted.
- 157+ mph: Severe damage; cars lifted off ground.
Amateur Radio Network
NWS Charleston utilizes the 2 meter amateur radio network across southeast SC and southeast GA 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 Charleston during an organized net is WX4CHS. When calling net control, simply call Charleston 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 (primary repeaters in bold):
- 146.760 MHz - Awendaw SCHeart Repeater
- 146.715 MHz - White Hall SCHeart Repeater
- 147.105 MHz - Charleston SCHeart Repeater
- 146.790 MHz - USS Yorktown CARS Repeater
- 146.910 MHz - White Hall CARA Repeater
- 147.345 MHz - Adams Run TARC Repeater
- 146.970 MHz - Savannah
- 147.330 MHz - Savannah
All amateurs are cordially invited to check in to the Lowcountry SKYWARN Net every Tuesday night at 9 PM on the CARS and SCHeart repeater systems. The net is sponsored by the NWS in Charleston. The purpose is to practice calling a SKYWARN net and to encourage hams to relay weather information to the NWS if a net is activated. If severe weather is occurring or imminent at the weekly net time, the net will be cancelled for that week. You'll be asked your name, call sign, location, and a brief description of current weather conditions at your location. We look forward to hearing from you!
Weather Spotter Guide
NWS Charleston Office Newsletter
NWS Charleston Spotter Quick Reference Card
National SKYWARN Website
SKYWARN Recognition Day
NWS Booklets and Brochures