hat is SKYWARN®

The effects of severe weather are felt every year by many Americans. 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 between 350,000 and 400,000 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. In the average year, 10,000 severe thunderstorms, 5,000 floods and more than 1,000 tornadoes occur across the United States. These events threatened lives and property.

A SKYWARN weather net is activated when a potential for severe weather is determined by the National Weather Service (NWS) in Chanhassen, MN. The Barron County Amateur Radio Association Inc. repeater located just west of Barron Wisconsin on a frequency of 146.715 (PL tone 110.9 Hz) is used for SKYWARN nets. A SKYWARN net, when initiated by the National Weather Service, may be operated from any SKYWARN trained net control station location until the Barron County Emergency Operations Center net control station is activated.

SKYWARN spotters should keep safety in mind when tracking severe weather and always leave an escape route. Never obstruct traffic, park only where it is safe, be visible, and use vehicle hazard lights or other warning lights when parked. Use SKYWARN signs to identify vehicles and do not park on private property. SKYWARN spotters are required to have attended one National Weather Service (NWS) training class, sponsored and coordinated by Barron County Emergency Management Office, every two years. All SKYWARN mobile spotters must be 18 years of age or older.

ABOUT SKYWARN is a program of the United States’ National Weather Service (NWS). Its mission is to collect reports of localized severe weather. These reports are used to aid forecasters in issuing and verifying severe weather watches and warnings and to improve the forecasting and warning processes and the tools used to collect meteorological data. It consists of a network of severe storm spotters that observe weather conditions and make reports of severe weather to their local NWS offices. These spotters are regularly trained by personnel from the local NWS offices. In many areas, classes are conducted each spring in advance of the coming severe weather season.