Spotter Page

Spotter Training Information

Training Resources Central Iowa Spotter Networks Reporting Severe Weather
Amateur Radio Repeaters

Severe Weather Operations for Spotters

Convective Outlooks from the Storm Prediction Center (SPC)

Day 1
Day 1 outlook
Day 2
Day 2 outlook
Day 3
Day 3 outlook
Mesoscale Discussion
Meso discussion
SPC Activity Chart

Showing a 1 hour radar loop, the current Day 1 convective outlook, and all active watches.
SPC Mesoanalysis Chart

Click on the image for a detailed look at severe weather parameters for various sectors across the county.


Central Iowa Hazardous Weather Outlook

 NWS Des Moines Weather Story

NWS Des Moines Radar

Other SPC Information

Observered Sounding Analysis SPC Day 4-8 Outlook
SPC Graphical Composite Maps

Central Iowa WEBCAMS

Training Resources

The National Weather Service (NWS) and emergency managers host spotter training classes across central Iowa each spring.  Training is delivered by a combination of "in-person" spotter training classes scattered across central Iowa and webinar-based distance learning classes.  In-person spotter training classes are offered in larger cities and towns and in several rural counties and small towns.  Every county in the NWS, Des Moines, County Warning Area (CWA) has a "in-person" spotter training class at least every other year.  To supplement "in-person" training, the NWS conducts weekly webinars using Join-Me internet-based distance learning webinars during spotter trainnig season.  All webinars are open to all spotters!  One "advanced" spotter class is also offeredl. The advanced class will build on what is taught in the regular class. It is intended for those who wish to do mobile spotting and desire a deeper understanding of meso-scale and storm scale meteorology as it relates to storm spotting. 

In addition to live National Weather Service spotter training presentations, there are several on-line training opportunities available.

       On-line spotter training resources

  • Spotter Data Quality Training
  • Spotter Reference Cards - Download PDF spotter reference cards to use while spotting!
  • 2014 Course Notes and Registration Info
  • Spotter's Field Guide - large PDF which may take a while to download (Updated for 2012)
  • Wind and Hail Reference Table
  • Spotter Cards ( .pub | .pdf | .doc )
  • Spotter Do's and Don'ts
  • National Weather Service, Des Moines, Spotter Training DVD - The DVD is available for emergency managers, fire departments and amateur radio clubs within the WFO Des Moines County Warning Area. It is ideal for groups who cannot attend a regular spotter training class,  but still need training.   To request a Spotter Training DVD, please e-mail the DMX Webmaster at  Please include your name, agency/department/group and your address.  The Spotter Training DVD is NOT available for individual spotters or the general public.
  • On-line SKYWARN Spotter Training - This course was developed by COMET which is a program that  supports, enhances and stimulates learning about atmospheric and related sciences.  It was not developed by the National Weather Service office in Des Moines.  The on-line course does NOT replace the need to attend a National Weather Service spotter training class. 

    The goal of the course is to provide baseline training for all spotters through multiple modules covering the procedures for spotting (including communication and spotter report criteria) and safety considerations for all hazards. As of September, 2011, there were two modules available including the Role of the SKYWARN Spotter and SKYWARN Spotter Convective Basics.  Students must register on the MetEd website to take the course.

    To register as a National Weather Service, Des Moines, IA, please follow the instructions below under Severe Verification Network.  This is in addition to registering as a SKYWARN Spotter at the end of the on-line course.
Other training and emergency management resouces 
Central Iowa Spotter Networks

Severe Verification Network

The Severe Verification Network is ideal for anyone who wants to report severe weather directly to the National Weather Service!  There are over 3000 spotters in the Severe Verification Network (SVN) in all 51 central Iowa counties served by the National Weather Service in Des Moines.  Benefits of belonging to the network include easy access to the severe weather operations center at the National Weather Service, Des Moines, IA via a private 800 spotter line, an occasional spotter newsletter (for those who provide an e-mail address), your home location which is a database and used to identify your location information already in the system and a notification reminder of the upcoming spotter training season. 

Interested in joining the SVN network?  Here's how:

    • You must be 16 years or older
    • Attend a spotter training class or complete the COMET SKYWARN Spotter Training cours
  • Register online (NEW and preferred method) - Visit the Mid-Iowa Skywarn Association website at  Note the "Action items for spotters" box a top the page, selecting the "Register as a spotter or update your Information" link.

  • E-mail your registration information directly to the NWS Des Moines Spotter Team via the spotter admin e-mail account (  Information should include your name, residence and mailing address (if different) as well as at least one phone number where you can be contacted.

Emergency Management Spotter Networks

These groups contain fire personnel, law enforcement, local amateur radio groups and local citizens. They are managed and maintained by the county emergency manager, or other designee.  These spotter groups are highly variable depending upon the county.  Most reports are sent to the NWS via the 911 Center Dispatcher, or by county EOC. A spotter can belong to the SVN and county spotter network!

Amateur Radio Spotter Networks

There are numerous SKYWARN amateur radio spotters across central Iowa.  Amateur radio spotters can reach the amateur radio net controller at WFO Des Moines providing the linking systems are operational.  During severe weather, amateur radio net controllers operate from the National Weather Service in Des Moines.  Net controllers receive spotter reports from amateur radio spotters from across central Iowa. Amateur radio is an excellent way to send severe weather reports real-time to the National Weather Service!

SKYWARN Amateur Radio Links:

Mid Iowa SKYWARN page

National Skywarn Page

Reporting Severe Weather

Reporting severe weather is essential!  Here are a few methods to reach the National Weather Service during severe weather.  Remember that each report, regardless of the method, must include the time and location of the event.  Pictures tell a thousand words, but not when and where the weather occurred!

Online - Online form for severe weather and winter weather reports
Email - dmx.spotterreport@noaa.govA great way to include pictures and/or video.
Use the 800 line - (800) SKYWARNMust have been through severe weather spotter training and belong to a spotter network to use this line!  Refer to materials received during spotter training.
SMS Text Messaging  - (515) 240-5515:  Send your phone pictures and text messages to this number with time, date, and location information.  With pictures, include a bit of text describing the direction you are looking.
Twitter - Send Twitter reports to the National Weather Service by including the #nwsdmx hashtag.
Amateur radio – The National Weather Service group amateur radio call-sign is K0DMX.  Interested in the central Iowa Repeater network?  Check out the information below!

We are still interested in your report after the event, please send your photos or videos including the date, time, location and permission (if you wish to grant permission) to use the pictures or videos in future spotter or preparedness presentations in your e-mail.  Thank you!     


Amateur Radio Repeaters

NWS offices around the country utilize various spotter networks for severe and other inclement weather verification and reporting.  The various spotter networks are comprised of emergency management officials, law enforcement, fire fighters, EMS personnel, and road crews.  We also utilize the general public with training taking place during the late winter and early spring as NWS personnel travel to various counties to provide training.  A final group of spotters utilized by our NWS office are amateur radio operators.

Amateur Radio Operators (HAMS) are a vital link in the spotter and communication network used by the NWS during severe or otherwise inclement weather.  Not only do they report what they see with their own eyes, but they can report what others see, and also provide communications to other NWS offices should normal communication modes fail.   The following graphics depict single repeaters, linked repeater systems, or a combination thereof which we utilize often.  New repeaters continue to be installed by dedicated and hard-working hams to expand their  networks.  We also continue to learn of and put into use these new systems as soon as possible.

For now, we will not list 2 meter and 70 cm repeaters outside of our 51 county warning area (depicted by the purple outline), unless they also serve some of our counties.  If you notice errors or omissions, know of new repeaters that need to be added, need to change your spotter address or phone number, or just have a SKYWARN/spotting question, drop us a line at  and we take care of your request ASAP.  Note:  This email address is not for sending severe weather reports, but instead is for administrative tasks.  For severe weather reporting via the internet, please click here.

Keep in mind the maps depict approximate signal coverage with radio propagation characteristics, geography, equipment reliability, etc. all affecting coverage of a given repeater. Since many of these repeaters are linked please give them a second or two to connect.

Here's a three page pdf file of the same information in a format that will print nicely on three pages.


Location Freq. PL
Grimes 146.610- 114.8
Williams 444.500+ 151.4
Mason City 146.760- 103.5
Scranton 444.300+ 151.4
Image depicting ham radio repeaters for SKYWARN operations

Location Freq. PL
Sheldahl 147.075+ 114.8
Storm Lake 146.775- 110.9
Humboldt 442.400+ 110.9

Notes:  The Storm Lake repeater is linked to the Sheldahl repeater via the ICN while Humboldt is linked to Storm Lake via RF.

Image depicting ham radio repeaters for SKYWARN operations

Location Freq. PL
Menlo 147.045+ 114.8
Creston 146.790- 136.5
Elk Horn 444.900+ 151.4
Prescott 145.510- 127.3
Avoca 147.255+ 151.4
Greenfield 444.700+ 173.8
Atlantic 147.150+ 151.4
Clarinda 444.750+ 127.3
Bedford 443.700+ 136.5
Image depicting ham radio repeaters for SKYWARN operations

Location Freq. PL
Grimes 443.400+ 151.4
Gilman 444.150+ 151.4
Baxter 444.225+ 151.4
Newton 442.300+ 151.4
Afton 442.400+ 151.4
Marshalltown 443.325+ 110.9
Chelsea 442.125+ 151.4
Image depicting ham radio repeaters for SKYWARN operations

Location Freq. PL
Bedford 147.135+ 203.5
Des Moines 146.820- 203.5
Pella 145.170- 203.5
Waterloo 444.900+ 203.5
Davenport 146.940- 203.5
Mason City 147.315+ 203.5
Note #1:  For local use only (no ICN access) on the Waterloo repeater, use a PL tone of 136.5.

Note #2:  For local use only of the Des Moines Hub, use a PL tone of 114.8.

Note #3:  For local use only of the Bedford repeater, use a PL tone of 127.3.

Note #4:  For local use only of the Davenport repeater, there is no PL tone.

Note #5:  For local use only of the Mason City repeater, use a PL tone of 103.5.

These repeaters are linked to the main Des Moines Hub via the Iowa Communications Network fiber optic system.  You must have the PL tone turned on to access the ICN Hub and the remote repeaters.

Image depicting ham radio repeaters for SKYWARN operations is the U.S. government's official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services.