National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

What is the National Weather Service?

The National Weather Service (NWS) is an agency of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which is a part of the Department of Commerce. The primary mission of the NWS involves the protection of life and property as well as enhancement of the national economy. This is accomplished through weather forecasts and severe weather warnings. However, there is more to the story and this involves people taking the appropriate action(s) based on such forecasts and warnings. This part of the equation is the goal of NOAA's "Weather Ready Nation" campaign to educate and help individuals prepare for severe weather and water events. Learn more about what the NWS does here and how you can become "weather ready" here


What does the Charleston, SC NWS office do?

Our office is responsible for providing forecasts and severe weather warnings for 20 counties across southeast SC and southeast GA, as well as portions of the Atlantic coastal waters. We routinely issue public forecasts as well as specialized forecasts/products for the aviation, marine, fire weather, hydrologic and climate communities. We also issue various types of watches, warnings and advisories to raise awareness of certain types of weather hazards such as strong winds, dense fog, and frozen precipitation. Click here for more information about our office. You may also enjoy these four short videos to learn more.


Do you give tours of the office?

Yes, we provide tours for schools, civic groups and other interested parties. School tours are limited to 5th grade or higher. If you would like to watch the evening weather balloon launch, it is conducted at 7 PM EDT/6 PM EST. Also, note that tours will be cancelled if severe weather is expected. If you can't make it in person, you can watch our virtual tour videos.


How do I get a job with the NWS?

There are many job opportunities within the NWS. Those interested in becoming meteorologists with the NWS must meet the following requirements. For other positions within the NWS, qualification requirements vary by position. All pertinent information about job vacancies can be found on USAJOBS.


Can I volunteer at your office?

Yes, but you at least have to be a high school senior or college student. For details regarding all of the requirements, look for an application which is typically advertised on the front page of our website in the early part of the year. You can also contact us during normal business hours at 843-554-4851 and select "3"  to reach our Science and Operations Officer.


How can I view NWS forecasts on my mobile device?

Check out this page (courtesy of NWS Wilmington, NC) for tips on accessing NWS forecasts on mobile devices. 


What is a radiosonde? And if I find one what should I do with it?

Radiosondes are used by the NWS to take observations of the atmosphere up to around 20 miles high as part of the global upper-air program. To learn more check out this fact sheet and the FAQ about the NWS Radiosonde Observation Program.

What is Doppler radar?

A Doppler radar contains special technology that detects motion toward or away from the radar antenna, in addition to showing the location of precipitation. The ability to detect motions within thunderstorms has greatly improved the ability for NWS meteorologists to provide advance notice of impending severe weather, including tornadoes. Learn more about this technology here.


How does the NWS determine what a "severe thunderstorm" is?

According to the NWS, a "severe thunderstorm" is one that produces 58 mile per hour or greater winds and/or 1 inch or greater in diameter hail. Excessive lightning is not considered during the issuance of Severe Thunderstorm Warnings, however Special Weather Statements are often issued to address storms with excessive cloud-to-ground lightning.


I often see "PoP" mentioned in your Area Forecast Discussion. What does that mean?

PoP refers to the probability of precipitation. More information can be found in this tutorial.


Where can I find transmitter frequency and SAME code information for NOAA Weather Radio All-Hazards?

Check out this page for more information. 


I have a rain gauge and like to record my rainfall. Would you be interested in this information?

Yes! The Community Cooperative Rain, Hail and Snow (CoCoRaHS) program involves folks who take daily precipitation measurements and report this information on the internet for all to see.

Please visit our CoCoRaHS website to learn more about the program and sign up as either an Observer or Local Coordinator. 


How do I become an official NWS storm spotter?

Visit our SKYWARN Weather Spotter page to learn more about helping the NWS by being our "eyes" and "ears" in the field.


Where can I learn about the weather?

JetStream is an online weather school from the NWS. A comprehensive list of weather education resources can be found here.


Where can I get information on weather safety/preparedness and fatality/injury/damage statistics?

Check out the NWS Weather Safety and Publications/Brochures webpages. You can find weather hazard statistics here.