Skywarn reporting criteria are as follows:

Winter / Cold Weather:

  1. 5” of snow in a 12 hour period 
  2. 6” of snow in a 24 hour period 
  3. 0.25” of ice accumulation 

Spring/Summer Warm Weather: 

  1. Rotating wall clouds, funnel clouds and tornadoes
  2. Hail – initially ANY sized hail, then only hail penny sized (¾”) and larger 
  3. Winds that cause damage to large limbs of live growth, utility poles or structures. We do not ESTIMATE wind speeds, but measured winds of 50mph or greater can be reported
  4. Flash flooding in areas not normally prone to flash flooding. (Also, please do not estimate rainfall rates) 
  5. Any significant weather-related damage not covered above

WARC has completed an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with the Blacksburg National Weather Service office authorizing the establishment of a Watauga County SKYWARN net.

WARC will sponsor a SKYWARN Information Net. This net will meet at 8:00 pm on the first Sunday of each month on the WA4J Repeater

A SKYWARN net will be activated on the WA4J repeater (147.36 +600 103.5 tone) when a storm watch or warning is issued for Watauga County NC by the NWS in Blacksburg, VA.

When the net is activated, the normal courtesy tone will be replaced with the SKYWARN courtesy tone.

Watauga County is at the far edge of Blacksburg’s radar coverage, and mountains create areas not reachable by radar. Because of this, ground spotters are critical in identifying storm conditions not viable on radar.


Spotters checking into the net should review and understand these procedure before checking into the net

1. Contact the National Weather Service at:

a. 1-800-221-2856 (For Severe Weather Reports)

1-540-552-0084 (non-severe weather information)

b. Amateur Radio (Watauga WA4J 147.36, 103.5 Hz tone)

c. E-mail: (used for delayed reports or non-time critical events like snowfall totals)

d. Facebook (

e. Twitter @NWSBlacksburg

f. Internet:

2. Identify Yourself as a SKYWARN spotter:

a. “I am a SKYWARN spotter”

3. Provide Your location: a. An exact address: “1750 Forecast Drive, Blacksburg, VA”

b. If mobile, the nearest intersection: “Forecast Drive and Tech Center Drive”

4. What to Report:

a. Tornadoes

b. Funnel Clouds

c. ROTATING wall clouds

d. Flash flooding

i. Creeks or streams out of their banks

ii. Water flowing over a road/roads closed due to flood waters

iii. One inch of rain or more in less than one hour

e. Damage, injuries, or loss of life and/or property caused by flooding, wind, hail, and tornadoes.

f. Trees, power lines or tree limbs 4” in diameter or larger downed by winds

g. 50 MPH wind gusts or higher (measured or estimated)

h. Hail (any size)

i. Snow 1” in depth”, 4” in depth and the total snowfall when the snow has ended. Provide the length of time the snow fell.

j. Ice that begins to accumulate on roads, and when it accumulates to ¼”

5. Time:

a. Time of the event

b. Duration of the event


Standby Mode – “Stand-by Mode means the repeater is free for normal use, however, a SKYWARN Net Control Station will be standing by for any severe weather reports. Please pause briefly between transmissions allowing the courtesy tone to reset & any necessary weather related traffic to be passed.” Note: This mode is used when severe weather is expected but has not arrived or when severe weather has cleared an area. This mode is normally used during watches

Active Mode – “Active Mode means the repeater is now under a Directed Net. All traffic should be directed through the Net Control Station. Severe weather is occurring within or approaching Watauga County.” Note: This mode is used when severe weather is occurring or imminent within the county. This mode is normally used during warnings. If no information is received, the NCS can elect to downgrade to Standby Mode

Emergency Mode – “The repeater is under the control of the Net Control Station. All traffic is restricted to emergency or priority traffic only. Extreme severe weather and/or damage is occurring within the county.” Note: This mode is reserved for extreme weather events or significant damage reports. This mode should only be in effect for short time intervals. Revert to Active Mode as soon as possible.

Severe Weather Reporting Criteria:

1. Rotating wall clouds, funnel clouds & tornadoes.

2. Hail – initially any size for a given area, then ¾” “Penny Size” or larger.

3. Winds that cause damage to large limbs of live growth, utility services and/or structures. (Please do not estimate wind speeds)

4. Flash flooding in areas that are not normally prone to flooding during heavy rain. (Please do not estimate rainfall rates.)

5. Significant storm damage – any weather-related damage not covered above.