National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

What is SKYWARN?

SKYWARN is a nationwide network of volunteer weather spotters who report hazardous weather to local National Weather Service (NWS) offices. Amateur radio operators and weather observers, generally operating through local organizations, are ideally equipped to contribute to the SKYWARN program. However, the general public is also an integral part of this program.

These volunteers are trained by NWS personnel to recognize features associated with rapidly developing, mature, and dissipating thunderstorms which cause hazardous weather. SKYWARN spotters also provide reports of heavy snow, heavy rain and flooding.

Spotters provide ground truth on the atmosphere that we observe from radar, satellites and various reporting stations. They are our eyes and ears, helping to provide better forecasts and warnings to the Tri-State Region.

How do I Learn About the National Weather Service (NWS) SKYWARN Program?

If you'd like to learn about the role of a volunteer Skywarn spotter that observes and reports all-weather hazards, please visit this MetEd (Meteorological Education) course,

Role of the Skywarn Spotter

Your name will be sent to our NWS Headquarters Office in Silver Spring, and then sent to our local NWS New York, NY Office, indicating your interest in the Skywarn Program.

How do I become a Certified SKYWARN Spotter?

You will need to participate in one free class that will be scheduled during the spring months from March through June.  For a class near you, the class schedule will be posted on this web page in  March.

This year, our NWS office will also be offering online spotter classes.

Following completion of this one-time free class, you will be formally assigned a Spotter Identification number at the class, and then added to our NWS Skywarn data base.

If you need to review a basic understanding of convective storms, which was covered in the class, you may complete the Skywarn Spotter Convective Basics training module at this web page:

Skywarn Spotter Convective Basics

Training from the MetEd web page is free.

Please remember that you need to participate in a Skywarn class hosted by our NWS office to earn certification and a Spotter ID Card.