The SKYWARN Storm Spotter Program was created by the National Weather Service (NWS) to improve warning services. SKYWARN spotters are the Eyes of the NWS. The NWS needs real-time reports of hail size, wind damage, flash flooding, heavy rain, tornadoes, and waterspouts to effectively warn the public of inclement weather. Even as new technology allows the NWS to issue warnings with more lead time, spotters will always be needed as links between radar indications of severe weather and ground truth. Storm Spotter volunteers serve as severe weather spotters for the NWS and local emergency management programs, and generally have two things in common – an interest in the weather and a desire to serve their community and perhaps save lives.
When to Report Severe Weather . . .
- Tornadoes, waterspouts, funnel clouds or rotating wall clouds
- Hail of any size
- Estimated or measured wind speeds of 50 mph or greater
- Flooding resulting in closed or impassable roads
- Property damage
- Rainfall amounts greater than 1 inches per hour
- Trees and/or large limbs downed by wind
- Downed power lines
- Structural damage caused by wind
When reporting any of these events, use the TEL method…what Time did the event occur, the type of Event, the Location of the event.
Submitting Your Photos
If you have taken pictures of weather events and would like to share them, you can attach them to an e-mail and send to
Please include your name as well as a brief description of the weather event (what happened, where the pictures were taken, when the pictures were taken, etc).
General rules for submitting photos:
You or a member of your immediate family must have taken the picture. Please do not submit images you’ve seen on the web.
Images should be in a JPG or TIFF format. Please re-size all images to a maximum width of 500 pixels.
If your photo is used on the NWS web site or otherwise, the photos will include crediting the photographer.
Not all photos can be posted.
Photos of interest to a significant part of the NWS Columbia service area are best.
Please do not mail hard copies of photos as we cannot be responsible for returning your photographs.
SKYWARN® is a registered trademark of NOAA’s National Weather Service.