National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

NOAA NWS White Lake Spotters' Page


What is Skywarn?

Skywarn is a nationwide network of volunteer weather spotters who report to and are trained by NOAA's National Weather Service (NWS). These spotters report many forms of significant or severe weather such as Severe Thunderstorms, Tornadoes, Hail, Heavy Snow, and Flooding.

The staffs at each NWS Forecast Office are responsible for issuing local forecasts and Severe Weather Warning services for the county warning forecast area. Skywarn Spotters provide an invaluable service by providing ground truth on the atmosphere we observe from advanced radars, satellites and reporting stations. These spotters act as our eyes and ears helping to provide better forecasts and severe weather warnings.  We are all working together for a Weather Ready Nation!

Check out the National SKYWARN Homepage

How to Join?

Joining is easy. All that is required is attendance to an interesting 1 hour 20 minute training session. The training courses are offered year round and are held throughout our county warning area An online Skywarn training is available through the NOAA MetEd web site.  Currently there are two courses, each taking about one hour to complete...The Role of the Skywarn Spotter and Skywarn Spotter Convective Basics.  Completing these online training classes will also allow you to join Southeast Michigan's Skywarn.

The spotter network is usually activated whenever there is a threat of severe weather; this is usually preceded by the issuance of a Severe Thunderstorm Watch, Tornado Watch, Flood Watch or some other type of watch. Skywarn reports can be relayed from whatever your location may be, whether that's at your office, on the road or in your neighborhood. Information is relayed to the NWS via several outlets which include dialing a toll-free telephone number, volunteer amateur radio operators, reporting online, the NWS Detroit/Pontiac Facebook page, or Twitter.

  • For more information regarding Skywarn, contact us. 

What to Report

Spotters are asked to report any occurrence of severe weather to your Skywarn EC, Skywarn Net Controller or directly to us at the NWS. These reports are of tremendous importance to us since they firmly tell us what the weather is like at the ground and aid us in understanding what we are seeing on our radar and satellite images. If you see any of the following eight types of events, please call us! These events are considered emergency traffic on the Ham network; please relay them to the NWS immediately.

  • Tornadoes, Water Spouts, and Funnel Clouds.
  • Damaging Winds that down trees, large limbs and power lines or any wind producing property damage.
  • Hail of at least 1/2 inch in diameter 
  • Lightning that produces damage, injury or death.
  • Flooding, Ice Jams, Bankfull Rivers or Streams.
  • Measured Rainfall that exceeds 1.0 in a 24 hour or less time period.
  • Freezing Rain that impacts travel or causes damage.
  • Snowfall greater than 1" (How to Measure Snowfall)
  • Any other event that you feel may help us determine the severity of storms.