National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

The National Weather Service relies on trained volunteers to supplement Doppler radar information on severe storms
and tornadoes. These dedicated individuals volunteer many hours of their time to learn about and detect severe weather.
Their valuable cooperation is important in the warning process. Weather reports from trained spotters are used along
with Doppler radar data to issue warnings of tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, and flash floods.


 

NOTE: This training schedule is subject to change. Please call the appropriate contact person for details, including any last-minute changes or cancellation due to inclement weather etc. The spotter training program is coordinated by Rick Shanklin, the Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the NWS Paducah office - 270-744-6440 or Ricky.Shanklin@noaa.gov. 


NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE PADUCAH SPOTTER PROGRAM:

  • Most spotter training is conducted in February and March, in preparation for peak severe weather season. A second spotter training season is conducted in September and October. There may be specialized webinar classes conducted at other times of the year.
  • These classes are free of charge and are open to anyone who has an interest in severe weather and/or public service. The objective of the training is to provide the knowledge to identify and report key severe weather features.
  • The classes contain photos/videos of recent violent tornadoes, storm damage, flash floods, hailstorms, and downbursts.
  • The staple "Spotter Concepts" class is about 2 hours in length. The "Elite Spotter Workshop" is 3 to 4 hours in length and is conducted in April.  All materials are provided, and a certificate of completion will be given at the end of each class.
  • Media outlets across the region are encouraged to announce classes in their coverage area.
  • For more details on spotter training classes in southeast Missouri, southern Illinois, southwest Indiana or western Kentucky, you may E-mail Rick Shanklin directly.

 

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE PADUCAH COUNTY WARNING AREA:

SPECIAL NOTE: The counties shown in the graphic below is our target audience. If you are outside of this area, please visit this link and click on your state to find the local NWS contact for your specific county. Some NWS offices may have other criteria or requirements for you to complete before you can be an official Skywarn Spotter for their area.

 

County warning area

 

SPOTTERS: HOW TO SUBMIT STORM REPORTS:

  • Use the Spotter Hotline (unlisted number provided during the Skywarn Spotter Class)
  • Use Twitter.  We can be reached at @NWSPaducah
  • Use Twitter hashtags: #tristatewx or #nwspah. (Certified spotters may also use #pahspotter)
  • Post it on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/NWSPaducah
  • Via our office Form Submission page:  Severe Weather Report Form 
  • Send us an email with your report (*NOTE: This email account is not monitored during severe weather events - send only post event storm reports or pictures here):  w-pah.webmaster@noaa.gov

SPOTTERS: WHAT TO REPORT:

Wind Damage (e.g. trees or tree limbs down, shingles off of buildings etc.)

Wind of 40 to 50 mph or greater

Hail (any size)

Wall Cloud

Funnel Cloud

Tornado

Flooding (water over roads, water rising out of banks of small creek and streams)

Snow or ice beginning to accumulate on roads or other surfaces 

Snowfall (about every 1 inch of accumulation)

Freezing Rain (about every 1/4 inch of accumulation and any related damage)

 

SPOTTERS: WEATHER ANALYSIS TOOLS:

SPOTTERS: ADDITIONAL TRAINING

ELITE SPOTTER TRAINING:

Elite spotter training  normally takes place in early April. See the schedule above for the latest classes scheduled.

The objective of the Elite Spotter Workshops is to develop well trained and safety conscious spotters. Spotters are highly encouraged to have taken the "Skywarn Spotter Concepts Course" (or a basic spotter course) before attempting to partake in the Elite Spotter Training. The workshops will be about 3 and 1/2 hours in length, and will include a "Basic Weather 101" section, more detailed and advanced spotting concepts, radar concepts, safety measures, and hands on exercises. An end of course exam will be given with a score of 70% required for passing the course and attaining a certificate.

For spotters who already attended this class, the entire slide presentation (pdf files) is below for your review:

Elite Spotter Training Presentation Section 1 (4.7 MB):
Elite Spotter Training Presentation Section 2 (5.8 MB):
Elite Spotter Training Presentation Section 3 (6.5 MB):
Elite Spotter Training Presentation Section 4 (2.1 MB):
Elite Spotter Training Presentation Section 5 (5.4 MB):
Elite Spotter Training Presentation Section 6 (2.2 MB):
Elite Spotter Training Presentation Section 7 (5.8 MB):

 

For those wishing to take some basic spotter classes online, or take refresher courses on the material presented by the NWS, MetEd offers an alternate way to achieve your training. MetEd is populated and maintained by the COMET® Program, which is part of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research's (UCAR's) Community Programs (UCP).

Role of Skywarn Spotter

Skywarn Spotter Convective Basics

Once you have completed this training, you may contact ricky.shanklin@noaa.gov or christine.wielgos@noaa.gov for instructions on making spotter reports.

 

GUIDES FOR NWS SKYWARN SPOTTERS:

REFERENCE MATERIALS: