WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO BECOME A SKYWARN® SPOTTER?
• You must be able to observe the weather (no instruments required)
• You must have access to a telephone to call in reports or be able to report information through an Amateur Radio Network.
• You must at least be 14 years old to become a Spotter
HOW DO I BECOME A SKYWARN® VOLUNTEER SPOTTER?
You are required to take the SKYWARN® Basics I class offered by the National Weather Service Baltimore/Washington Forecast Office. This class is a pre-requisite for all other SKYWARN® classes offered by the NWS Baltimore/Washington Forecast Office. (It is also highly recommended that you take this course every three to four years as a refresher.)
The Basics I class gives a general overview of the types of severe weather experienced in the Middle Atlantic, the importance of the SKYWARN® Spotters, how to report severe weather to your local NWS office and the role of Amateur Radio in the Spotter Program. After taking the Basics I course, you will be provided a spotter number via email with a printable spotter card attached.
Spotter classes are NOT taught at the National Weather Service Baltimore/Washington Office located in Sterling, Virginia. Classes are typically taught in cooperation with County Emergency Management Officials at no cost. Other "optional" classes are provided for our spotters to learn more about hurricanes, winter storms and floods.
ON-LINE SKYWARN® COURSES
National SKYWARN® courses are also offered online by COMET on their MetED site (located here). These courses are also free, and can be of extra value to you with severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. However, the local information on the multitude of weather threats we get in our region is missing. It is because of this vital missing information that you will not be registered into our spotter database or receive a spotter number until you take our Basics I SKYWARN® class taught by one of our meteorologists from the NWS Baltimore/Washington Forecast Office.
HOW DO I REGISTER FOR A CLASS?
The NWS Sterling office is not responsible for registration for individual SKYWARN® classes. If you need to register for a class, please contact the person listed on the class announcement. If you have any questions, please email: Kevin.Witt@noaa.gov.
HOW CAN MY ORGANIZATION HOST A SKYWARN® CLASS?
In a typical year, the NWS Baltimore/Washington Forecast Office teaches between 25 and 30 SKYWARN® classes. The classes are taught between September and May. Most classes are arranged in coordination with County Emergency Management Officials. Other classes can be taught in cooperation with the Red Cross, local Universities or Amateur Radio Clubs.
To host a class the organization needs:
- At least 25 people in attendance.
- To open the class to the public if less than 50 people are registered.
- A facility that meets audio/visual requirements which include a projector and a screen (or white wall) to project slides.