National Weather Service SKYWARN training through Spring of 2021 will be virtual only—consisting of on-line content with a real instructor—and will be presented through the GoToWebinar on-line events platform.
Classes—through the end of April—will be offered:
- Monday evenings (7–8PM)
- Tuesday afternoons (2–3PM)
These classes are free of charge and open to the public.
Anyone interested in attending one of these classes must register on-line.
April 2021 Virtual Class Sign-up
- Visit the SkyWarn Refresher Registration page
- Complete the registration form. If more than one person will be watching, you don’t need to register more than once - we’ll send an email about how to register as a spotter and get your certificate after the class
- Once registered, you will receive an email with a link to join. Before the class, please visit the GoToWebinar System Check and try a test session to make sure your computer, tablet, or smartphone is ready to attend the class! If you do not have a strong internet connection, you will have the option to call in by phone to listen to the audio 1
Year Round On-line Classes
Participants must create a free MetEd user account before taking these courses
The MetEd website provides education and training resources to benefit the operational forecaster community, university atmospheric scientists and students, and anyone interested in learning more about meteorology, weather forecasting, and related geoscience topics. MetEd is populated and maintained by the COMET® Program, which is part of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research’s (UCAR’s) Community Programs (UCP). The MetEd website is made possible by the sponsors of the COMET® Program. 2
- Reference material for knowledge and safety
- Spotter Reference Guide 1
- Spotter Reference Guide 2
- Hail Size Chart
- FEMA - Building A Safe Room
- Scijinks - it’s all about weather for kids of all ages
- Jetstream - an online school for weather
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is SKYWARN?
Skywarn (formed in the early 1970s) is the National Weather Service (NWS) program of 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 modern NWS technology, are used to inform communities of approaching severe weather. The focus of Skywarn (and of the NWS) is simple…to save lives and property.
Since the mid 1990s, the WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) has provided valuable information to area forecasters…with better detection of severe storm phenomena and more accurate and timely warnings. However, even with the advance in technology… “ground truth” is still a very important part of the warning process. “Ground truth” is what is actually occurring. Is the storm tornadic? Is it producing large hail? How about damaging winds? Most of the “ground truth” is provided by trained storm spotters (through Skywarn)…or the “eyes of the NWS.”
Who Are SKYWARN Severe Weather Spotters?
SKYWARN spotters across North Dakota and Minnesota consist mainly of amateur radio operators, emergency response officials, and trained public responders. The vast majority of those involved are volunteers who provide this valuable public service. These Spotters donate their time and equipment to help us (the NWS) get warnings out to the public, and to get public reports of severe weather back to the NWS …by any means possible.
Spotters are generally self-activating… meaning they pay attention to the latest Forecast, Convective Outlook, and Watch or Warning… then they observe and report on the occurrence of severe weather from wherever they may be located.
How can I get involved?
Every year the National Weather Service in Grand Forks conducts both “basic” and “advanced” spotter training classes. Individuals are taught the basics of thunderstorm development, storm structure, what constitutes severe weather, and how to report this information. Advanced classes consider more extreme storm features to look for and where to find them. Additional information on reporting and basic severe weather safety are also covered.
Each class, Basic and Advanced, is a multi-media presentation which includes detailed video. Classes are typically scheduled back-to-back on the same evening. Each class typically takes around 70 minutes, with about a 15 minute break for questions and refreshments. New Spotters are encouraged to attend the Basic Class while veteran Spotters may chose to attend the Advanced Class.
Class schedules are published on the Skywarn, NWS WFO Grand Forks, ND page
SKYWARN Contact: Greg Gust, Warning Coordination Meteorologist, NWS WFO Grand Forks