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Northern Indiana NWS Skywarn Information


How to Become a Spotter

Online Course Material

Spotter Aids

Briefing Materials

Other Webpages


Additional MATERIALS
YouTube Spotter Training!
Reporting Methods Page



Welcome to the Northern Indiana National Weather Service (NWS) Skywarn program. Skywarn is a group of trained severe weather spotters that report directly to the NWS.

Year after year, reports from Skywarn volunteers assist the NWS in issuing more timely and accurate warnings based on real-time reports throughout our 37 County Warning Area covering northern Indiana, southern Michigan and northwest Ohio. The NWS's primary mission is to issue warnings to protect life and property.

The ground truth reports from Skywarn spotters are an integral part of the mission critical warning process that combines advanced Doppler radar data and meteorological skills. Skywarn Spotter observations also provide us with information when compiling documentation of severe weather events, verification of warnings and service assessments. These reports become part of the Storm Data publication, providing data on a variety of severe and unusual weather phenomenon, including statistics on deaths, injuries, and property and crop damage nation-wide.

A large number of our Skywarn spotters are also licensed amateur radio operators, also known as "hams". The hams throughout many of our counties organize their spotter efforts on amateur radio frequencies when severe weather threatens. Many reports are relayed through the IMO (Indiana-Michigan-Ohio) Skywarn Network. Spotters in this network will then relay their reports directly to the amateur radio station WX9IWX at our office, staffed by local amateur radio operators who volunteer their time to come into the office versus being in the field or at home. We want to thank all of the volunteer severe weather spotters for their time and commitment to Skywarn.

The National Weather Service in Northern Indiana is continuing to expand into other social media platforms to gather and share information.

  • How Do I become a Skywarn Spotter?

Basic spotter training sessions are held every year, during February and March. A listing of upcoming sessions can be found by viewing the list above. The training classes typically take around 2 hours. In order to remain current, annual refresher training is encouraged.

In an effort to maintain an accurate database, spotters who have not received training within 3 years of the their last session will be removed.

  • Do I get anything at the end of the training session to show I have taken the training?

Some NWS offices issue ID's and/or certificates. However, maintaining such a large database in addition to tracking all the ID's, can be a difficult task. As a result, the National Weather Service in Northern Indiana does not issue ID's or certificates. The host of each training session, typically the county or city Emergency Manager, can issue and track these, at their discretion.

We use a number of methods to receive reports. These can be found in the Download section below.

  • I would like to have refresher training throughout the year. What other resources exist?

An online course is being offered. This online course covers the basics of being a SKYWARN Spotter. The goal of the course is to provide baseline training for all weather spotters through multiple modules covering the procedures for spotting (including communication and spotter report criteria) and safety considerations for all hazards.

You can choose to register as a SKYWARN Spotter with the National Weather Service (NWS) by using the checkbox that appears after you Enroll in the course.

New for 2015! We have added and will continue to update our YouTube Channel to include the 2015 Spotter Program conducted in February and March.  These videos are to be used as a supplement to the training and DO NOT replace actual attendance.

More detailed information about this online course is available here.

Support for Severe Weather Preparedness and Planning

Storm Prediction Center

 Northern Indiana Area Watches and Warnings

New - WFO Northern Indiana Severe Weather Climatology (Charts and Descriptions)

Local Storm Report Monitoring Page

 Weather Spotters Guide

 Citizen Scientist Guide

Downloads and Spotting Aids

Reporting Criteria and Investigative Spotting Rules

Spotter Reporting Methods

Maintaining Severe Weather Awareness

Hail Chart

Beaufort Wind Chart (and Spotter Reporting Format)

Thunderstorm Type Chart and Associated Threats

QR Codes and Shortened Webpage Addresses

Owlie Skywarn Booklet (1.6 MB pdf) from NOAA's National Weather Service

Other Webpages and Resources

National Weather Service SkyWarn Directive - PDF

Northern Indiana Facebook Page

Northern Indiana NWS YouTube Channel

Indiana Michigan Ohio SKYWARN Facebook Page


Authored by: Michael Lewis, WCM NWS Northern Indiana
Last Update: October 26, 2015