National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

The tools the National Weather Service uses include many high tech pieces of equipment such as Dual Polarization Doppler Radar, Geostationary and Polar Orbiting Satellites, radiosondes, and observational mesonets to name a few.  All of these tools serve a unique purpose and help us protect lives and property.  However, during severe weather one of the best tools is still the human being, who acts as a weather spotter and reports what is being seen and heard.

To effectively warn for the protection of life and property, the National Weather Service must have a thorough handle on current weather conditions throughout the region.   Unfortunately, long distances separate National Weather Service offices.   Although weather satellites and Doppler Weather Radar use the latest technology to provide a wealth of information to forecasters, no tool has yet been developed that can replace a human observation of the weather in a local area at a specific time.

You can help!  By alerting us to significant weather events, you become the "eyes and ears" of the National Weather Service in your area and help us determine when and where we need to issue warnings.  Your participation in the SKYWARN® spotter program is entirely voluntary.  You are under no obligation and cannot be compensated.  However, your vigilance is valuable and greatly appreciated - it helps others and could save lives!


Training Methods

There are currently two ways you can become a SKYWARN® weather spotter for NWS Charleston, WV.  The primary method is by attending a class in person.  The secondary method is by taking a series of online training modules. 


Training Method #1:  Attending an In-Person Training Class

The National Weather Service, in cooperation with county Emergency Management directors, will typically hold several weather spotter classes each year.  A schedule of upcoming classes can be found below.  Unless otherwise stated, these classes are open to the public, free of charge, and require no registration. 



Training Method #2:  Online Training Modules

Prospective weather spotters who cannot make it to an in-person weather spotter class can take a set of online training modules offered by MetEd

The goal of the first module called Role of the Skywarn Spotter is to provide baseline training for all current and future spotters through multiple scenarios covering the procedures for spotting (including storm report criteria), safety considerations for all hazards, and an overview of the national program and its history.

The goal of the second training module called Skywarn Spotter Convective Basics will guide users to a basic understanding of convective storms. Through three different scenarios, you will cover reporting and proper communication of local storm reports to the National Weather Service, personal safety during these events, and field identification of convective storm hazards. After completing the scenarios, you will be given the opportunity to practice identifying storm features from a spectrum of photos.

You will have register for each of these courses through the following website.


Additional Resources for Spotter

The following resources are available to assist weather spotters:


For More Information and to Schedule a Class

If you would like additional information about the SKYWARN®  program or if you would like schedule a class and live in the NWS Charleston, WV County Warning Area, please contact:

  • Tony Edwards, Warning Coordination Meteorologist
  • Phone: 304-746-0173 ext 223
  • Email: