National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce
skywarn® - Importance for Southwest California
Overview and Importance
  • skywarn® is a national effort to save lives during severe weather emergencies with an expanding network of amateur radio spotters.   The services performed by skywarn® spotters have saved many lives and will continue to save lives.
  • The National Weather Service has a number of devices for detecting severe thunderstorms and other types of severe weather.   Included in these are Doppler radar, satellite, and lightning detection systems.   However, the most important tool for observing thunderstorms and other severe weather is the trained eye of the storm spotter.
  • By providing observations, skywarn® spotters assist National Weather Service members in their warning decisions and enable the National Weather Service to fulfill its mission of protecting life and property.   Storm spotters are, and always will be, an indispensable part of the severe local weather warning program for San Diego, Orange, western Riverside, wouthwestern San Bernardino Counties.

How does skywarn® work in Southwest California?

  • Amateur radio volunteers operate a base station at the San Diego Weather Service Office during severe weather or other weather related emergencies.
  • Through a network of repeater antennas, volunteers at the San Diego office contact other amateurs located in communities throughout Southwestern California in San Diego, Orange, western Riverside, wouthwestern San Bernardino Counties.
  • Storm information is collected at the base station for rapid relay by forecasters to the media, Emergency Management and Law Enforcement agencies, and the public.


Why do Hams make good skywarn® spotters?

  • Hams operate on emergency power when commercial power is lost so reports may still be received.
  • Hams have the capability to be mobile.
  • Reports are received in a timely, efficient manner.
  • Unlike police, fire, and other government emergency response persons, amateur radio operators have no jurisdictional boundaries.
  • Amateur radio spotters are able and willing to perform their service for extended periods.
  • skywarn® spotters are trained to have a knowledge of severe weather characteristics.   This ensures not only that they are able to recognize severe weather, but also that they avoid erroneously reporting non-hazardous conditions.
  • In Southwest California, any amateur radio operator can become a skywarn® spotter.   Your help is appreciated!