The words below are commonly used on Skywarn nets, and it is important for the operators in our CWA to know what these terms mean, as some of them imply an immediate emergency.
PASS Weather Term Table

Green Bay Weather

Green Bay Weather is the Tactical call sign used by Net Control at the WFO GRB. Green Bay Weather's callsign is WX9GRB.


NOAA's official name for the Weather Forecast Office, at Green Bay, Wisconsin. Often seen in various NWS statements and literature.


County Warning Area. This is the area of responsibility for a particular weather forecast office.


Station Callsign for the amateur radio station at WFO GRB.

Local Nets

Local nets operate on local repeaters, independent of Green Bay Weather's control. Local nets are the groups of field spotters in individual counties making the actual weather observations. Observations that qualify as severe criteria are transmitted to the Green Bay Weather net via relay stations.

Relay / Liaison Stations

Relay / Liaison stations are stations who listen to a Local Net, and the Green Bay Weather Net. Relay stations bring criteria-qualifying observations from the local nets to the Green Bay Weather net, and also re-transmit observations or requests from Green Bay Weather to local observers. Relay Stations should not be Local Net Controls, as they could be directing the Local Net when Green Bay Weather is calling them on another frequency.

Local Net Controls

An Amateur radio station regulating a Local Net. Local Net Controls should not be Relay stations, as traffic may become too intense for one person to manage.

Reporting Criteria

The WFO GRB staff have created a list of observations that are requested field reports. All reports are useful, but during a severe weather situation, only qualifying reports may be transmitted on the voice channels. Relays are responsible to ensure their reports meet the Severe Criteria. The WFO GRB staff reserve the right to relax or change criteria requirements.

Severe Thunderstorm Watch

A Severe Thunderstorm Watch means conditions are favorable for the development of Severe Weather in and close to the watch area. If you are in the watch area, monitor the weather conditions closely. Storms can develop rapidly, and advanced warning may not be possible. Watches are often issued for a large geographical area.

Spotting groups should prepare to deploy when a Watch is issued.

Severe Thunderstorm Warning

A Severe Thunderstorm Warning means that a severe thunderstorm has been observed, or is indicated on radar. If you are near, or in the path of the storm, take immediate actions to protect life and property. A thunderstorm is considered severe if winds are 58 mph, and/or hail 3/4 inch in size.

When warnings are issued, local spotting groups should already be in place and their safety established.

Tornado Watch

A Tornado Watch means conditions are favorable for tornadoes and severe thunderstorms in and close to the watch area. Persons in these areas should be on the lookout for threatening weather conditions, and listen for later statements and possible warnings. Watches are often issued for a large geographical area.

Spotting groups should prepare to deploy when a Watch is issued.

Tornado Warning

A Tornado Warning is issued when a Tornado has been detected on radar, or reported by storm spotters. When warnings are issued, local spotting groups should already be in place and their safety established.

Flood / Flash Flood Watch

A flood occurs after 6 hours following the end of the causative event (heavy rain, ice jam, dam breaks). A flash flood occurs within 6 hours of the causative event. Watches are issued when the WFO feels flooding is possible in certain areas of the CWA.

Flood / Flash Flood Warning

Flood / Flash Flood Warnings are issued when such flooding is imminent, or has been reported in by storm spotters.

Blizzard Warning

A Blizzard is a severe winter storm with strong winds, falling and/or blowing snow, and poor visibilities. White-out conditions are likely during blizzards. Blizzards feature winds of 35 mph or higher, with visibility falling to 1/4 mile or less. Travel is usually impossible.

Winter Storm Warning

A Winter Storm Warning means that significant amounts of snow, with blowing and drifting is expected. 6" or more snow within 12 hours, or 8 inches within 24 hours, winds 25mph or faster. Travel is very hazardous.

Winter Weather Advisory

A Winter Weather Advisory means that snowfall in the 2 - 4 inch range, along with gusty winds, are expected in the advised area. Sleet and hail is also possible during the weather event. Roads are often slippery and hazardous.

Snow Advisory

A Snow Advisory means that periods of snow will cause primarily travel difficulties. 3 to 6 inches of snow within 12 hours.Be prepared for snow covered roads and limited visibilities.

Heavy Snow Warning

A Heavy Snow Warning means that snowfalls greater than 6 inches is possible in the affected areas. Winds are less than 25 mph. Heavy Snow Warnings differ from Winter Storm Warnings due to the amount of wind and drifting potentials. Travel will often be hazardous, and the heavy snow accumulations may cause damage to property if the snow is not periodically removed.

Winter Storm Watch

A Winter Storm Watch means there is a potential for significant snow and wind that may impact travel. Winter Storm Watches often turn into Winter Storm Warnings, Heavy Snow Warnings, Snow Advisories, or Winter Weather Advisories.

High Wind Warning

Sustained winds greater than 40pmh for 1 hour or more.

Wind Advisory

Sustained winds 30 mph or higher, for 1 hour or more.

Wind Chill Warning

Wind chills falling beyond 35 degrees below zero with at least 10 mph wind. Extreme danger to exposed skin.

Wind Chill Advisory

Wind chills 25 to 34 below zero, with at least a 10 mph wind.

Marine Warnings

Special Marine Warning: winds 34 knots or faster for 2 hours or less

Gale Warning: Sustained winds 34 - 47 knots

Storm Warning: Sustained winds 48 - 64 knots

Hurricane Force Winds: Sustained winds 65 knots or higher

Common Weather Terms