SkywarnWhat is SKYWARN®?

The effects of severe weather are felt every year by many Americans. To obtain critical weather information, NOAA’s National Weather Service (NWS), part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, established SKYWARN® with partner organizations. SKYWARN® is a volunteer program with nearly 290,000 trained severe weather spotters. These volunteers help keep their local communities safe by providing timely and accurate reports of severe weather to the National Weather Service.

Although SKYWARN® spotters provide essential information for all types of weather hazards, the main responsibility of a SKYWARN® spotter is to identify and describe severe local storms. In the average year, 10,000 severe thunderstorms, 5,000 floods and more than 1,000 tornadoes occur across the United States. These events threatened lives and property.

Since the program started in the 1970s, the information provided by SKYWARN® spotters, coupled with Doppler radar technology, improved satellite and other data, has enabled NWS to issue more timely and accurate warnings for tornadoes, severe thunderstorms and flash floods.

SKYWARN® storm spotters are part of the ranks of citizens who form the Nation’s first line of defense against severe weather. There can be no finer reward than to know that their efforts have given communities the precious gift of time–seconds and minutes that can help save lives.

Who is Eligible?

NWS encourages anyone with an interest in public service and access to communication, such HAM radio, to join the SKYWARN® program. Volunteers include police and fire personnel, dispatchers, EMS workers, public utility workers and other concerned private citizens. Individuals affiliated with hospitals, schools, churches, nursing homes or who have a responsibility for protecting others are also encouraged to become a spotter.

How Can I Get Involved?

  • Basics of thunderstorm development
  • Fundamentals of storm structure
  • Identifying potential severe weather features
  • Information to report
  • How to report information
  • Basic severe weather safety


Community Emergency Response Team

clip_image002The Ottawa County Emergency Management Agency is pleased to announce the formation of an Ottawa County Citizen Emergency Response Team, or CERT.  The Citizen Corps program is a federally developed volunteer organization, and it is supported by small grants from FEMA to the states and then distributed to county applicants. Ottawa County EMA will receive $7,000 over the next year to support its CERT program development.  Services are provided free to disaster victims and county residents, and training to be part of the team is covered by the grant.

The CERT will consist of county residents and workers who want to help when a disaster strikes, or who want to assist with family and individual disaster preparedness activities in the county.  CERT does not duplicate efforts of other organizations, but instead helps other organizations who respond to disasters.  CERT can do things like establish a Volunteer Reception and Donations Management Center at the disaster site.  They work directly with homeowners and victims to get spontaneous volunteers where they are needed, and to distribute unsolicited donations to help them.  They support the victims of disaster as well as the organizations and first responders who are mobilized.

For persons interested in becoming a part of the Citizen Corps Advisory Council or the CERT, contact team coordinator Sandy Hovest of North Coast Cert at [email protected] or by calling 419-602-0758.  and on Facebook.


Does your organization or department have a specific training need? We may be able to help.

Email:   [email protected]