Description: NOAA's National Weather Service (NWS), part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, established SKYWARN in the 1970s with partner organizations as a volunteer program to help keep local communities safe by providing timely and accurate reports of severe weather to the National Weather Service.

SKYWARN storm spotters are part of the ranks of citizens who form the nation’s first line of defense against severe weather. 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. In the average year, 10,000 severe thunderstorms, 5,000 floods and more than 1,000 tornadoes occur across the United States.

NWS encourages anyone with an interest in public service and access to communication, such HAM radio, to join the SKYWARN program. Volunteers include police and fire personnel, dispatchers, EMS workers, public utility workers and other concerned private citizens. Individuals affiliated with hospitals, schools, churches, nursing homes or who have a responsibility for protecting others are also encouraged to become a spotter.