During a severe weather-related event, your police scanner is
your information lifeline. The information contained below covers
what you need to know to monitor communications during these events
and is divided into the following topics:
National Weather Service (NWS) Frequencies
National SKYWARN Information
Severe Weather Preparation Tips
Weather Links & Resources
see our Natural
Disaster page and Emergency
Preparedness page for more severe weather
Weather Service (NWS)
The National Weather Service
continually broadcasts updated weather conditions, warnings,
advisories, and forecasts 24-hours a day nationwide from NOAA
(National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration) data center.
WEATHER RADIO IS THE BEST MEANS TO RECEIVE WARNINGS FROM THE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE. These broadcasts can be received by
NOAA Weather Radios sold in many departments stores and by all
One or more of the following NWS channels can be heard in most
areas of the U.S. Most new scanners come with these channels
pre-programmed and accessed by a one-touch button labeled "WX".
If your does not have a one-touch weather button, simply program
these frequencies into your scanner to find the one for your area.
Or, if your scanner has a search feature, search between 162.400
YOU HAVE A SCANNER, MONITOR YOUR LOCAL PUBLIC SAFETY
FREQUENCIES OR THE WEATHER FREQUENCIES LISTED ABOVE FOR THE LATEST
WEATHER ADVISORIES! IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A SCANNER, MONITOR
YOUR LOCAL TV OR NEWS RADIO FOR THE LATEST NEWS AND/OR ADVISORIES!
MAKE SURE you have extra batteries for your scanner or
You can find the
location and frequency of your nearest NOAA Weather Radio
transmitter by using the index located on the NWS Home Page at: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr/nwrbro.htm#nwrstations
SKYWARN Net ("Storm Spotters")
SKYWARN is a concept developed in the early 1970s that was intended to promote a cooperative effort between the National Weather Service and communities. The emphasis of the effort is often focused on the storm spotter, an individual who takes a position near their community and reports wind gusts, hail size, rainfall, and cloud formations that could signal a developing tornado.
Another part of SKYWARN is the receipt and effective distribution of National Weather Service information. The organization of spotters and the distribution of warning information may lies with the National Weather Service or with an emergency management agency within the community.
This agency could be a police or fire department, or often is an emergency management/service group (what people might still think of as civil defense groups). This varies across the country however, with local national weather service offices taking the lead in some locations, while emergency management takes the lead in other areas.
SKYWARN is not a club or organization, however, in some areas where Emergency Management programs do not perform the function, people have organized SKYWARN groups that work independent of a parent government agency and feed valuable information to the National Weather Service.
While this provides the radar meteorologist with much needed input, the circuit is not complete if the information does not reach those who can activate sirens or local broadcast systems.
SKYWARN spotters are not by definition "Storm Chasers". While their functions and methods are similar, the spotter stays close to home and usually has ties to a local agency. Storm chasers often cover hundreds of miles a day. The term Storm Chaser covers a wide variety of people.
Some are meteorologists doing specific research or are gathering basic information (like video) for training and comparison to radar data. Others chase storms to provide live information for the media, and others simply do it for the thrill.
Since frequencies vary from location to location, we do not provide a list of frequencies. You can find frequencies for your local SKYWARN group by visiting the Index of SKYWARN Groups
below and searching for the area closest to you.
National Weather Service Skywarn Program
National SKYWARN Homepage
Index of Local Skywarn Groups
Weather Preparedness Tips
- Make sure you have your police scanner and extra batteries
ready to go!
- If you do not have a police scanner, make sure you have a
portable TV or radio for the latest weather news or current
- Make sure you have a FIRST
AID KIT in the event that you need to treat injuries
that may occur due to falling/flying debris or broken glass.
- Be sure to fill up your gas tank before storm hits and know
ahead of time where you will go in case you are forced to
- Make sure you have enough non-perishable foods and drinking
water to last up 72-hours.
- Locate and secure all important papers (insurance, mortgage,
- Make sure you have a place for your pets to stay in the event
you must evacuate as shelters will most likely no allow pets.
- Get materials ahead of time if your place needs boarding up.
- Secure all loose objects and furniture in your yard.
- ONCE AGAIN! - MONITOR YOUR POLICE SCANNER FOR THE LATEST
UP-TO-DATE INFORMATION DURING A SEVERE STORM, IT COULD SAVE YOUR
See our First
Aid Kit Page for complete details on putting a first aid kit
together or purchasing a ready-made kit and our Emergency
Tools & Supplies page for additional preparedness
information and tips.
Remember, you should
be prepared to be self-sufficient for up to several days or more
depending on the severity of the event.
weather-related links and resources are reliable sources of
up-to-date weather information: