The SKYWARN program is a loosely organized nationwide group of volunteers who are trained to recognize and report severe weather events to the National Weather Service with the goal of saving lives by improving warning accuracy. Since the 1970’s, ordinary citizens across the country have given their time and skills to the SKYWARN program, and amateur (“ham”) radio has played an important role in the collection of these reports.
In some areas, SKYWARN programs are organized by local emergency management teams or community groups. In other areas, ham radio clubs provide all SKYWARN training and services.
Locally, the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Greenville-Spartanburg, South Carolina (Greer, SC) administers the SKYWARN program throughout the KGSP County Warning Area (CWA) which includes 46 counties and independent cities in Piedmont of North Carolina, Western North Carolina, Northeast Georgia, and Upstate South Carolina.
Over 2,000 active volunteers have completed their Wakefield SKYWARN training program and take refresher courses every three years as part of their ongoing certification process. Basic SKYWARN Spotter classes are held throughout the County Warning Area each year, mostly in the first half of the year, and a limited number of Advanced SKYWARN Spotter classes are held in major cities a few times a year.
GSP Regional SKYWARN was founded in March 2010 and provides communications support and additional community outreach services for the SKYWARN program. The team consists of specially trained, FCC-licensed amateur radio operators (“hams”) who operate on-air communication networks to collect and relay reports and requests for information between the Forecast Office and the amateur radio community. The team is operational in most of 46 counties and cities in the GSP CWA, an area covering over 3.6 million residents, and is guided by its Mission and Values.
All licensed amateur radio operators are encouraged to check in to our nets and call in reports of severe weather events as they happen. Interested in becoming a licensed ham? Contact us for information on how you can get started.