To obtain critical weather information, NOAA’s National Weather Service (NWS), part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, established SKYWARN® with partner organizations.
SKYWARN is a volunteer program with nearly 290,000 trained severe weather spotters. These volunteers help keep their local communities safe by providing timely and accurate reports of severe weather to the National Weather Service.
Although SKYWARN spotters provide essential information for all types of weather hazards, the main responsibility of a SKYWARN spotter is to identify and describe severe local storms.
Since the program started in the 1970s, the information provided by SKYWARN spotters, coupled with Doppler radar technology, improved satellite and other data, has enabled NWS to issue more timely and accurate warnings for tornadoes, severe thunderstorms and flash floods.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.