National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

National Weather Service
SKYWARN® Program

Skywarn spotters for the National Weather play an important role in our warning process and help our communities stay safe.


SKYWARN® Class Schedule

All NWS Duluth in-person Skywarn classes for Spring 2020 have been cancelled. Online classes will be offered in place of the in-person classes, and the dates and times of these classes will be announced soon! Stay tuned to this page and our social media for updates.



The National Weather Service's SKYWARN® program provides FREE 2-hour training to volunteers in the community who help identify and report severe weather including large hail, damaging winds and tornadoes.

Since the program began in the 1970s, the information provided by SKYWARN® spotters has helped the National Weather Service issue timely and accurate warnings to protect lives and property. There can be no finer reward than to know that their efforts have given communities the precious gift of time, the seconds and minutes which can help save lives.

Each Spring, National Weather Service offices across the country train volunteers within their area of responsibility. At the Duluth office, we are responsible for training across northeastern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin. Our neighboring offices in Grand Forks, Minneapolis, La Crosse, Green Bay, and Marquette offer training for their service areas.

We encourage anyone with an interest in weather to attend a SKYWARN® class in your community to become an official and trained weather spotter. No registration is required, just show up. Anyone who spends time outdoors, whether working, camping, fishing, golfing, or hiking will also benefit from a SKYWARN® class. Public safety personnel are also encouraged to attend SKYWARN® training.

SKYWARN® training covers the following topics:

  • The mission of the National Weather Service and how SKYWARN® spotters play an important role in the warning process.
  • Thunderstorm formation and the types of thunderstorms. We'll study the meteorological dynamics involved in thunderstorm production and what it takes for a storm to produce damaging winds, large hail, and tornadoes.
  • Visual indicators spotters can look for to identify possible severe weather. This includes types of clouds associated with specific areas of a thunderstorm, how to identify rotation and discriminate between strong and weak rotation, and discriminating between tornadoes and look-a-likes.

Current SKYWARN® spotters are asked to attend training at least every 4 years in order to refresh their training.



In addition to the classroom-based SKYWARN® training sessions, online training is available through the COMET MetEd website (registration is required). The online training is a great supplement and annual refresher but is not intended to replace a classroom session.



In some areas, local SKYWARN® organizations have been organized to better support the National Weather Service mission. Below is a partial list of local SKYWARN® organizations in the region.



SKYWARN® is a registered trademark of NOAA's National Weather Service. Rules for the usage of the SKYWARN® name and logo are available at

StormReady, TsunamiReady, Turn Around Don't Drown,
NOAA All Hazards Weather Radio, NOAA Publications

If you have questions, please contact Joe at