National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce


SKYWARN is a program established by the National Weather Service in the 1970s with a goal of obtaining critical weather information during times of severe weather. Skywarn works with local organizations and private citizens who have a desire to serve their communities. Skywarn volunteers receive training in severe storm identification and evolution, and when severe weather threatens, they become "storm spotters", reporting information in real-time to the local NWS office. Storm spotters are the nation's first line of defense against severe weather, and they know that their efforts may ultimately help to save lives. Their information, when combined with sophisticated technology such as doppler radar, satellite and lightning displays, helps NWS meteorologists in their primary mission... the issuance of warnings and advisories for the protection of life and property.

Skywarn classes are generally held in the spring of the year, starting in early March and lasting into May. A list of upcoming classes is available on this web site. To become a member of a Skywarn organization in your area, contact your county emergency manager or attend a spotter training class in your area for more information.

A document is available that describes the procedures for handling Skywarn operations throughout our area of responsibility. This document describes the methods to have real-time communications with spotter groups while minimizing the number of radio systems that staff must monitor to get that information. A hub and spoke system is used such that local Skywarn nets are held on their local "spoke" repeater, and this information is then passed to the NWS over one of the "hubs". In general, reports are not taken by the NWS directly by spotters in the field, but instead are forwarded on a "hub" by the local net control station.

Hub and Spoke Repeater Map (click to enlarge)