SKYWARN Operations

The full SKYWARN Policies and Procedures (SOG) can be opened here: Pinellas-Skywarn-SOG

The following on this page is only a summary of the complete document.


The normal PCACS repeaters, backup and fall back simplex frequencies are used and found at: Primary & Contingency Frequencies


The sole purpose of the SKYWARN program in Pinellas County, Florida is to provide the National Weather Service Forecast Office at Tampa Bay with timely and accurate reports of severe weather phenomena so that a timely warning can be issued to the public of impending dangerous weather including tornadoes, hail, and damaging thunderstorm winds.

Activation Triggers

Pinellas SKYWARN will activate under any of the following conditions:

  1. A severe thunderstorm warning or tornado warning has been issued for Pinellas County.
  2. Severe weather has been reported by a trained spotter.
  3. The WCM at Tampa Bay Weather has requested activation.
  4. A Tropical Storm Warning has been issued for Pinellas County.
  5. The annual tornado drill held in April each year.
  6. Other drills and exercises in cooperation with ACS, ARES as needed.

In the event a NWS Tornado Watch is issued, expect activation as well.

Operational Conditions

The SKYWARN Net is divided into Four operational conditions, as follows:

  • Condition Black: A tornado or funnel cloud has been reported and only reports of tornadoes or funnel clouds will be accepted. Do not report any other severe weather conditions during this time.
  • Condition Red: Severe weather warning is in effect or severe weather has been reported by a trained spotter. This is a formal net for the reporting of severe weather only.
  • Condition Yellow: Potential severe weather is approaching or has entered the county area but no warning has been issued and no severe weather has yet been reported. This is an informal net. Check ins are normally accepted during this period.
  • Condition Green no Severe WX exists – Normal Operations

Reporting Protocol

You should only report:

  • Rotational Phenomena:
  • Tornadoes: Report observed damage, duration of time on ground, start/end times, width, travel distance.
  • Waterspouts: You must observe rotation
  • Funnel Clouds: Report on organization, persistence and rotation.
  • Wall Clouds: Report if clouds are rotating and how long they have existed. (Report this over the radio, do not report to the NWS 800 number).
  • Hail?: Report the size of the largest stone and any damage. To estimate size, compare hail to well known objects such as coins or balls but not to marbles.
  • Damaging Winds or winds 45 mph or greater:? Report estimated or measured wind speed and wind damage. A description of moving objects or damage is useful.
  • For tree damage: What is the height and diameter of the branch, limb or tree that was broken or blown down? Was the tree healthy or decayed? What type of tree was damaged, e.g., hardwood or softwood?
  • Details to submit for damage to structures: Is the damage to a well-built structure or a weak outbuilding? What is the main building material for the structure: wood, brick, metal, concrete, etc.? If the structure is a mobile home, was it anchored down?
  • Heavy rains 2″ per hour or 4″ per day
  • Flooding (Coastal, or Inland – rain caused): Report approximate water depth, whether it is standing water or flowing, whether it is rising, falling, or staying steady in depth, if there is any damage, if the area is known to be flood prone.
  • Damage that is directly weather related
  • Your report on the SKYWARN net should identify yourself and TEL us about the situation (Time, Event, Location):
  • Who you are: Call Sign & SKYWARN ID
  • Time the event occurred (not when you make your report)
  • Event you have witnessed: the specific weather event from above
  • Location the event occurred: (not necessarily your location) Use well known roads and cross streets or landmarks and direction of travel if applicable.
  • Note: after making your initial report, use your SKYWARN spotter ID as your tactical call sign. For instance, if your SKYWARN ID is
    PIN-017A, you would use a tactical call of “Pinellas 17A
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