What is SkyWarn?
is a concept developed in the early 1970s that was intended to promote
a cooperative effort between the National Weather Service and
The emphasis of the effort is often focused on the storm spotter, an
who takes a position near their community and reports wind gusts, hail
size, rainfall, and cloud formations that could signal a developing
Another part of SKYWARN is the receipt
effective distribution of National Weather Service information.
the distribution of warning information may lies with the National
Weather Service or with an emergency management agency
the community. This agency could be a police or fire department, or
is an emergency management/service group (what people might still think
of as civil defense groups). This varies across the country however,
local national weather service offices taking the lead in some
while emergency management takes the lead in other areas.
is not a club or organization, however, in some areas where Emergency
programs do not perform the function, people have organized SKYWARN
groups that work independent of a parent government agency, such as
this group, and feed valuable
information to the National Weather Service. While this provides the
meteorologist with much needed input, the circuit is not complete if
information does not reach those who can activate sirens or local
spotters are not by definition "Storm Chasers".
While their functions and methods are similar, the spotter stays close
to home and usually has ties to a local agency. Storm
chasers often cover hundreds of miles a day. The term Storm
Chaser covers a wide variety of people. Some are meteorologists
doing specific research or are gathering basic information (like video)
for training and comparison to radar data. Others chase storms to
live information for the media, and others simply do it for the thrill.
is dangerous and should not be done without proper training, experience
Weather Service conducts spotter training classes across the
States, and your local National Weather Service
office should be consulted as to when the next class will be held.
Anyone is welcome to
Why Have SkyWarn?
NWS Forecast Office in Charleston, West Virginia is responsible for
for most of West Virginia, Southeast Ohio, Northeast Kentucky and parts
of Southwest Virginia. The NWS Forecast Office in Blacksburg, Virginia
is responsible for isuing
warnings for the South Western part of Virginia, North Western part on
Carolina and part of the South Eastern West Virginia. It is very
difficult to keep tabs on what is going
on in this large area during a severe weather event. SkyWarn volunteers
become our eyes and ears during these hectic times, helping to provide
better weather watch and warning services to the public.
When will SkyWarn Function?
relayed to the NWS during tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, snow storms,
flooding, and any other weather event that involves the use of
storm spotters. If you observe rough weather, we want to know about
Who will activate SkyWarn?
The Weather Office
and/or emergency management authorities may activate the SkyWarn net
whenever there is a severe weather threat or the forecast office issues
a severe thunderstorm watch, tornado watch, or flood watch. In this
information will be relayed through our amateur radio repeater network.
Hazardous Weather Outlook product, at :
For Charleston, West Virginia CWA,
For Blacksburg, Virginia CWA,
will give information on what type of weather is possible, and if SkyWarn
activation may be needed.
Where will SkyWarn
are relayed from wherever you are, on the road, in your office, or at
home, you don't have to travel to any particular location! It is
however, to not jeopardize your own safety while participating in
Give your report when you are in a safe location away from the
How are SkyWarn and HAM radio
HAM radio operators
have a special place in the SkyWarn system. The Blacksburg and
office has HAM radio equipment on site. A SkyWarn Net run by the
amateur radio net control operators allow for reports from the field to
be directly heard at the Weather Service. (See repeater chart below
showing repeaters that is used for SkyWarn purposes)
How do I join SkyWarn?
All that is required
is your appearance at one of our training sessions, which are held in
locations around our area of responsibility. We will record your
and contact information, and we will provide you with information on
and when to report. You will even learn about storm structure and
Since this page covers two territories of the National
Weather Service, [Blacksburg (Roanoke), Virginia and Charleston, West
Check to see when and where the next SKYWARN training sessions will be held.
For Mercer and Summers
Counties in West Virginia
For Raleigh County, West Virginia
Does it cost anything to join SkyWarn?
All training that we provide is for the benefit of you and your
We even have a toll-free number that is specifically for reports from
our SkyWarn spotters. All we ask for
is your time
and your effort!
Sounds great! What if I have
like more information on the SkyWarn
program, use the contact information at:
For Blacksburg, Virginia
For Charleston, West Virginia