What is SkyWarn?

SKYWARN is a concept developed in the early 1970s that was intended to promote a cooperative effort between the National Weather Service and communities. The emphasis of the effort is often focused on the storm spotter, an individual who takes a position near their community and reports wind gusts, hail size, rainfall, and cloud formations that could signal a developing tornado. Another part of SKYWARN is the receipt and effective distribution of National Weather Service information.

The organization of spotters and the distribution of warning information may lies with the National Weather Service or  with an emergency management agency within the community. This agency could be a police or fire department, or often is an emergency management/service group (what people might still think of as civil defense groups). This varies across the country however, with local national weather service offices taking the lead in some locations, while emergency management takes the lead in other areas.

SKYWARN is not a club or organization, however, in some areas where Emergency Management 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 radar meteorologist with much needed input, the circuit is not complete if the information does not reach those who can activate sirens or local broadcast systems.

SKYWARN 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 provide live information for the media, and others simply do it for the thrill.

Storm Spotting and Storm Chasing is dangerous and should not be done without proper training, experience and equipment.

The National Weather Service conducts spotter training classes across the United States, and your local National Weather Service office should be consulted as to when the next class will be held.

Anyone is welcome to participete.

Why Have SkyWarn?

The NWS Forecast Office in Charleston, West Virginia is responsible for issuing warnings 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 North 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?

Information is relayed to the NWS during tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, snow storms, flooding, and any other weather event that involves the use of volunteer storm spotters. If you observe rough weather, we want to know about it! 

Who will activate SkyWarn?

The Weather Office and/or emergency management authorities may activate the SkyWarn net usually whenever there is a severe weather threat or the forecast office issues a severe thunderstorm watch, tornado watch, or flood watch. In this case, information will be relayed through our amateur radio repeater network. Also, our 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 observations be taken?

SkyWarn reports are relayed from wherever you are, on the road, in your office, or at your home, you don't have to travel to any particular location! It is important, however, to not jeopardize your own safety while participating in SkyWarn. Give your report when you are in a safe location away from the hazardous weather.

How are SkyWarn and HAM radio operators related?

HAM radio operators have a special place in the SkyWarn system. The Blacksburg and Charleston weather office has HAM radio equipment on site. A SkyWarn Net run by the volunteer 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 various locations around our area of responsibility. We will record your location and contact information, and we will provide you with information on what and when to report. You will even learn about storm structure and evolution...really cool stuff!

Since this page covers two territories of the National Weather Service, [Blacksburg (Roanoke), Virginia and Charleston, West Virginia]
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?

Absolutely not! All training that we provide is for the benefit of you and your community. 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 more questions?

If you would like more information on the SkyWarn program, use the contact information at:

For Blacksburg, Virginia
For Charleston, West Virginia

In the Raleigh County SKYWARN Group,
we use several HAM, 146 Mcs, repeaters.
2 meter Repeaters
Frequency Call Location Notes
145.370-(100.0) WV8BD EOC Tower
Downtown Beckley
Raleigh County
145.170-(100.0) WV8B Ivy Knob
Guyandotte Mountain
Near Bolt
Wyoming / Raleigh County
NWS Charleston can access thisone direct
147.360+(123.0) N8FWL
Tilden Hill
Sulivan Mountain
Near Tilden
Raleigh County
440 Repeaters
- - - -
Purposed Repeaters
- - - -
For more frequencies of Kentuckey, North Carolina, Tennesse, Virginia, West Virginia, !
(NOTE : That this page is LARGE and will take a while to load into your cache.)