SKYWARN logo with image of skywarn amateur radio operator at work SKYWARN SPOTTER 

The National Weather Service relies on trained volunteers to supplement doppler radar information on severe storms and tornadoes. These dedicated 
individuals volunteer many hours of their time to learn about and detect severe weather. Their valuable cooperation is important in the warning process. 
Weather reports from trained spotters are used along with doppler radar data to issue warnings of tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, and flash floods.




February, 2015 - Upcoming
Day City, State Time Location
03 Fairfield, IL
(Wayne County)
6:00pm CST TBD
Audio: Call 866-440-7702
Access Code: 8162683154
Contact Information: Rick Shanklin (270) 744-6440 ext 726
21 Carterville, IL
(Williamson County)
8:00am CST John A. Logan College, Hancock Center, Room F118/119
Contact Information: Kelly Huddleston (618) 998-2123

March, 2015 - Upcoming
Day City, State Time Location
Audio: Call 866-440-7702
Access Code: 8162683154
Contact Information: Rick Shanklin (270) 744-6440 ext 726




Most spotter training is conducted in February and March, in preparation for peak severe weather season. A second spotter training season is conducted in September and October. There may be specialized webinar classes conducted at other times of the year.

  • These classes are free of charge and are open to anyone who has an interest in severe weather and/or public service. The objective of the training is to provide the knowledge to identify and report key severe weather features.

  • The classes contain video footage of recent violent tornadoes, flash floods, hailstorms, and downbursts.
  • The staple "Spotter Concepts" class is about 2 hours in length. The "Elite Spotter Workshop" is 3 to 4 hours in length.  All materials are provided, and a certificate of completion will be given at the end of each class.
  • Media outlets across the region are encouraged to announce classes in their coverage area.
  • For more details on spotter training classes in southeast Missouri, southern Illinois, southwest Indiana or western Kentucky, you may E-mail Rick Shanklin directly.
  • This training schedule is subject to change. Please call the appropriate contact person for details, including any last-minute changes to the time or meeting place. The spotter training program is coordinated by Rick Shanklin, the Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the Paducah NWS office. He can be reached at 270-744-6440. 


SPECIAL NOTE: Please be advised that the area outlined below in the graphic is our target audience. If you are outside of this area, please visit this link and click on your state to find the local NWS contact for your specific county. Some NWS offices may have other criteria or requirements for you to complete before you can be an official Skywarn Spotter for their area.

County warning area

National Weather Service Paducah KY County Warning Area

 Below are a few references for the Skywarn Spotter Class:

Safety brochures
Weather Spotter's Field Guide (~1.5 mb)
Thunderstorms, Tornadoes and Lightning...Nature's Most Violent Storms (~14 mb)
Floods...the Awesome Power (~16 mb)
E-Spotter Website


Elite spotter training  normally takes place in late March and early April. See the schedule above for the latest classes scheduled. 

2009/2010 Spotter Density Maps By County:

All of the 2009 and 2010 spotters were recently plotted on maps for counties to see where we are needing more spotters. All of the spotters were plotted based on their address or specific spotting location. We are especially looking for people in areas within the counties that are currently void of registered spotters. A few counties did not conduct spotter training in either 2009 or 2010.  Check out the pdf files below to see if you are in an area within your county that our office needs your help. If you are interested, check back frequently to this page for updates on upcoming classes to become a certified Skywarn spotter.

Illinois Spotters (3.4 MB)
Kentucky Spotters (4.8 MB)
Indiana Spotters (1.1 MB)
Missouri Spotters (2.4 MB)



 The objective of the Elite Spotter Workshops is to develop well trained and safety conscientious spotters. The workshops will be about 3 and 1/2 hours in length, and will include a "Basic Weather 101" section, more detailed and advanced spotting concepts, radar concepts, safety measures, and hands on exercises. An end of course exam will be given with a score of 70% required for passing the course and attaining a certificate.

For spotters who already attended this class, the entire slide presentation (pdf files) is below for your review:

Elite Spotter Training Presentation Section 1 (4.7 MB):
Elite Spotter Training Presentation Section 2 (5.8 MB):

Elite Spotter Training Presentation Section 3 (6.5 MB):
Elite Spotter Training Presentation Section 4 (2.1 MB):
Elite Spotter Training Presentation Section 5 (5.4 MB):
Elite Spotter Training Presentation Section 6 (2.2 MB):
Elite Spotter Training Presentation Section 7 (5.8 MB):




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