National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce


What is SKYWARN™?


Welcome to the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania National Weather Service SKYWARN™ program. SKYWARN™ is a group of trained severe weather spotters that report directly to the National Weather Service.


Year after year, reports from SKYWARN™ observers have assisted the NWS in issuing timely warnings based on REAL-TIME reports throughout our 36 County Warning Area covering parts of PA, WV, OH, and MD. The NWS's primary mission is to issue warnings to protect life and property.


The ground truth reports from SKYWARN™ spotters are a vital link in using advanced radar data and meteorological skills to carry out our mission. Their observations also provide us with information in compiling documentation of severe weather events and verification of warnings. These reports become part of the Untited States Storm Data publication, which is used by researchers and also provides climatological data on a wide variety of unusual weather phenomenom, including statistics on death, injuries, and property and crop damage.


Over half of our 1600 + spotters are also licensed amateur radio operators (a.k.a hams). The hams throughout many of our counties meet and organize their spotter efforts on one radio frequency (network or nets), when severe weather threatens. Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) provides communication support for the SKYWARN™ program.


Interested in becoming a SKYWARN™ spotter? Check out our list of upcoming training sessions.