Becoming a certified weather spotter is an excellent way to contribute to your community’s safety and stay informed about local weather conditions. Weather spotters play a crucial role in assisting the National Weather Service (NWS) by providing real-time, on-the-ground information about severe weather events.

To become a certified weather spotter, follow these steps:

  • 1. Learn about the Skywarn program: Skywarn is a volunteer program established by the NWS to train weather spotters. Visit the Skywarn website ( to familiarize yourself with the program’s goals, requirements, and benefits.
  • 2. Find a training class: The NWS offers free weather spotter training classes across the United States. These classes are typically held in the spring and fall, and they cover topics such as identifying severe weather, reporting procedures, and weather safety. To find a class near you, visit the NWS website ( and click on your local forecast office. From there, look for a link to Skywarn or spotter training information.
  • 3. Register for a class: Once you’ve found a class, follow the registration instructions provided by your local NWS office. Some classes may require pre-registration, while others may be open to walk-ins. Be sure to provide accurate contact information, as this will be used to communicate important updates and information about the class.
  • 4. Attend the training: During the class, you’ll learn valuable information about severe weather identification, safety, and reporting procedures. Pay close attention and take notes, as this information will be essential for your role as a weather spotter.
  • 5. Obtain your spotter certification: Upon completion of the training class, you’ll receive a weather spotter certification, which may include a unique spotter identification number. This number is used when reporting severe weather to the NWS and helps them track your reports.
  • 6. Stay informed and involved: As a certified weather spotter, it’s essential to stay informed about local weather conditions and maintain your skills. Regularly check the NWS website and follow your local forecast office on social media for updates on severe weather events. Additionally, consider joining a local Skywarn group or participating in online forums to connect with other weather spotters and share information.
  • 7. Report severe weather: When you observe severe weather, report it to your local NWS office using the methods discussed in your training class. Be sure to include your spotter identification number, the time and location of the event, and a detailed description of the weather conditions.

By following these steps, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a certified weather spotter and making a valuable contribution to your community’s safety and preparedness.

Additional resources

The NOAA Weather-Ready Nation (WRN) initiative is another valuable resource that aims to improve the nation’s readiness for extreme weather events. By becoming a WRN Ambassador, you can help promote weather safety and preparedness in your community. The WRN website offers various tools, resources, and educational materials to enhance your understanding of weather hazards and effective communication strategies.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers online courses related to weather spotting and emergency preparedness through their Emergency Management Institute (EMI). The Independent Study Program (ISP) provides self-paced courses, such as “Introduction to the Incident Command System” and “Community Hurricane Preparedness,” which can enhance your knowledge and skills as a weather spotter.

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