Skywarn Information

Skywarn Logo

* SKYWARN spotters can send it reports to the National Weather Service via eSpotter *

SKYWARN is a program established by the National Weather Service in the 1970s with a goal of obtaining critical weather information during times of severe weather. Skywarn works with local organizations and private citizens who have a desire to serve their communities. Skywarn volunteers receive training in severe storm identification and evolution, and when severe weather threatens, they become "storm spotters", reporting information in real-time to the local NWS office. Storm spotters are the nation's first line of defense against severe weather, and they know that their efforts may ultimately help to save lives. Their information, when combined with sophisticated technology such as doppler radar, satellite and lightning displays, helps NWS meteorologists in their primary mission... the issuance of warnings and advisories for the protection of life and property.

Skywarn classes are generally held in the spring of the year, starting in early March and lasting into May. A list of upcoming classes is available on this web site. To become a member of a Skywarn organization in your area, contact your county emergency manager or attend a spotter training class in your area for more information.

The National Weather Service office in Chanhassen, MN makes extensive use of amateur radio in our spotter operations. You can learn more about becoming an amateur radio operator from the ARRL. While amateur radio is used to efficiently convey life-threatening severe weather from the spotters in the field to the meteorologists at the National Weather Service, we also have the eSpotter system available for sending in lower-priority or delayed reports.

In 2005, the NWS office in Chanhassen, MN updated the procedures for handling Skywarn operations throughout our area of responsibility. These new operations take into account the need to have real-time communications with spotters throughout the area while lowering the number of radio systems that staff must monitor to get that information. To this end, we developed the hub and spoke system of reporting severe weather information to the National Weather Service. Under this system, local Skywarn nets are held on their local 'spoke' repeater, and this information is then passed to the NWS over one of the 'hubs'. In general, reports are not taken by the NWS directly by spotters in the field, but instead are forwarded on a 'hub' by the local net control station.

Hub and Spoke System Map
Hub and Spoke Repeater Map

Getting started as a SKYWARN spotter

Schedule of SKYWARN classes offered by the NWS Twin Cities/Chanhassen

Storm Spotters Guide

Storm Spotters Glossary

National SKYWARN Web Page

Twin Cities Metro SKYWARN

Publications is the U.S. government's official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services.