Support for the National Weather Service Spotter Program

SKYWARN is the National Weather Service (NWS) nationwide program of trained volunteer severe weather spotters. SKYWARN volunteers support their local community and government by providing the NWS with timely and accurate severe weather reports. These reports, when integrated with NWS Doppler Radar signatures and other data, can be critical in the issuance of severe weather warnings. This helps to save lives and protect property, which is the main mission of the NWS.

The SKYWARN program was formed in the early 1970's after major tornado outbreaks ravaged many areas. Each NWS Forecast Office runs its own SKYWARN program. In New Hampshire, Cheshire and Hillsborough Counties are in the jurisdiction of the Taunton Forecast Office in Taunton, MA. The balance of the New Hampshire Counties are served by the Gray Forecast Office in Gray, ME.

To become an official NWS Skywarn spotter you need to attend a training session that includes instruction on accurately identifying and reporting severe weather events. It is critical that each weather spotter is able to accurately identify specific severe weather signatures. Criteria and procedures for reporting hail, wind, and other damage to the NWS is also discussed. SKYWARN volunteers also help the NWS by reporting on winter weather, flash flooding, coastal flooding, etc., according to established criteria. At the training sessions, weather spotters are asked to fill out a questionnaire which details hours of availability, access to rivers and streams, and the type of weather equipment owned by the spotter (if applicable).

Training sessions are held In New Hampshire by both the Taunton and Gray Forecast Offices, typically in the late spring and early summer months. To keep informed of the latest training dates and locations you can contact the NH-ARES Skywarn ASEC or the Skywarn coordinator at either NWS office, or listen for announcements on NOAA Weather Radio.

Skywarn Operations - In New Hampshire, Amateur Radio Skywarn training and operations are coordinated by the New Hampshire Amateur Radio Emergency Service (NH-ARES). The responsible person is the Assistant Section Emergency Coordinator for Skywarn (ASEC-Skywarn).Activation and operations are described in the NH-ARES Emergency Communications Plan. Refer in particular to the Skywarn and Tactical Reporting attachments.