Q. Can I be spotter?
A. Yes! Spotting is open to everyone of all ages. However, you must be 14 years old to get an ID for reporting. We encourage young people to work with their parents.
Q. How do I become a spotter?
A. All you need to do is attend a Metro Skywarn class. See the Class Schedule for a class near you. Classes are generally four hours long, and are offered February through May. Classes are free, but donations are accepted.
Q. Do I need to be an amateur radio operator (HAM)?
A. To report through Metro Skywarn and receive a MSW ID Card, you need to be a licensed Amateur Radio Operator (or be getting your license soon). Non-HAMs may attend class, but are registered with the National Weather Service Skywatcher program. Skywatcher IDs are emailed to you in June by the NWS.
Q. I don't live in the 7-county Metro area. What can I do?
A. The National Weather Service offers classes for greater Minnesota residents within the County Warning Area (CWA). See the NWS Class Schedule for details.
Q. I don't live in the 7-county Metro area, but I work/play/worship in the Metro. What can I do?
Q. Is there an online class and test I can take? Can I use a MetEd certificate?
A. At this time, there is no online alternative to our in-person training. Online classes and testing can help increase your knowledge of storms, but they are not a substitute for attending a class. Spotter Network offers an online class and quiz that provides reporting rights through their Website and mobile apps. Spotter Network reports are sent directly to the NWS. Spotter Network training and Metro Skywarn training are not interchangeable.
Q. I am a trained Skywarn spotter from another location. Does my Skywarn training transfer to Metro Skywarn?
A. Generally, training does not transfer between Skywarn organizations. Training is coordinated independently by each Skywarn organization, and our training includes details specific to our radio operations. Metro Skywarn is a RACES amateur radio organization, which requires amateur radio operators to be registered with us to participate in formal severe weather nets. The four-digit MSW IDs we issue are not transferrable to another organization. If you have a spotter ID issued by a near-by NWS office, contact us and we'll connect you with the local NWS office to see if your training can transfer offices.
Q. I am an amateur radio operator, but I do not have a Metro Skywarn Spotter ID. Can I report during severe weather?
A. Metro Skywarn operates under RACES status when a formal net is active. FCC regulations require all stations be registered with a civil organization. If you do not have a MSW ID, you will not be able to report conditions during a formal net. If you have an emergency report, such as a tornado or other imminent threat to life and property, you can report as a station in distress.
Q. I just took my class. When do I get my Spotter ID?
A. There are two types of Skywarn Spotters: Amateur Radio Operators and Non-Radio Operators. Metro Skywarn Spotter IDs and ID cards are given to Amateur Radio Operators only, and are assigned at the end of your class. You will receive an ID card with your Spotter ID on it. MSW IDs are a four-digit number.
Q. I am not an Amateur Radio Operator. When do I get my ID?
A. Non-Radio Operators are given Skywatcher IDs from the National Weather Service. These are emailed to you in June directly by the NWS. You are still a Skywarn spotter—you just report directly to the NWS. Instructions on how to report will be emailed to you, along with your ID. You will be given a blank Skywatcher ID card with a space to fill in your Skywatcher ID when you receive the email from the NWS that contains your Skywatcher ID. Skywatcher IDs are not available to be distributed at your class. Skywatcher IDs are a combination of County-Letter-Number. Use the full combination when you make a report to the NWS.
Q. Can I register for the Website?
A. Most of the MetroSkywarn.org Website is open to the public. However, there are certain features for Metro Skywarn Spotters only. Only spotters with a four-digit Metro Skywarn Spotter ID can sign in to the Website. Due to privacy concerns and restrictions, MSW Website logins are not available for NWS Skywatchers.
Q. How do I register for the Website?
A. Your information is entered into the database by your instructor within a few weeks of your class. New spotters: you will receive an email notification when your account is created. If you previously had a MSW ID but have never logged into the site, try to use the "Forgot Login?" feature and check "Lost Password" using your call sign as the username, and the email address provided on the class roster. If your account is not found, use the contact form below, or email firstname.lastname@example.org for help in locating your account.
Q. I have additional questions. Who do I ask?
Q. I have a MSW ID, am a radio operator, and there is a reportable condition. There is no active net. How do I report?
A. If you have a reportable condition, and there is no net available on any primary or secondary repeaters, visit our Alternate Reporting Methods page for more information.