NWS Wakefield SKYWARN
Amateur Radio Support Team
WX4AKQ Wakefield, VA
This page attempts to answer many of the frequently asked questions about our team and the SKYWARN program. If there's something you'd like to know that's not listed here, take a look at our Other Q&A Topics, check the SKYWARN Operations Manual, SKYWARN Training Portal, or send us an e-mail.
How do I become a trained Spotter?
Spotter training is offered in a classroom setting several times a year, mainly in the spring, with a few summer and fall classes. Training is free and is open to anyone 16 years of age or older.
Two types of training are offered:
Basic SKYWARN training covers all of the basics of identifying reportable severe weather events and getting those reports to the National Weather Service. Spotter safety topics are also covered.
Advanced SKYWARN training covers more advanced topics such as severe weather climatology, severe thunderstorm development, how radar works, and other aspects of forecasting. Basic SKYWARN training is a prerequisite.
You can find a list of classes and downloadable training materials on the Wakefield SKYWARN Spotter Page.
How do I stay certified as a Spotter?
Re-certification is required at least once every three years. You may re-certify by attending your choice of either the Basic or Advanced SKYWARN training. It is not necessary to take both to re-certify, and you can re-certify with just the Advanced training even if you have only taken the Basic training in the past.
Is online Spotter training available?
Yes. Classroom training remains the preferred method for obtaining Spotter certification because it allows for one-on-one interaction with a member of the NWS forecast team.
If you are unable to attend a classroom session, you may complete an online training session, which can take the form of either an instructor-lead "live" training class or a generic Spotter training course via the UCAR MetEd program. For more information, see the Wakefield SKYWARN Spotter Page.
Where do I find my Spotter ID?
The Wakefield WFO stopped issuing new Spotter ID's in early 2012.
We have been told some Spotters have received Spotter ID's since that date, but since many Spotters were trained during the period in which no ID's were issued, we have discontinued our practice of asking for ID numbers during our nets.
How do I identify as a Trained Spotter without an ID?
If you are calling NWS directly, or e-mailing a report, simply stating "I am a trained Spotter" is sufficient.
If you are calling a report into our SKYWARN ham radio nets, you can make the same statement. If you have not previously told us you are a trained Spotter, Net Control will ask you. Once you are in our system as a trained Spotter, you should not be asked again.