National Weather Service (NWS)

NOAA and NWS Logos[6]

The National Weather Service (NWS), once known as the Weather Bureau, is one of the six scientific agencies that make up the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and is headquartered in Silver Spring, MD. The NWS is tasked with weather, hydrologic, and climate forecasts and warnings for the protection of life and property with some 5,000 employees in 122 local weather forecast offices, 13 river forecast centers, 9 national centers, and other support offices around the country.

The NWS uses local branches, known as Weather Forecast Offices (WFOs), to issue products specific to those areas. Some of the products that are only issued by the WFOs are severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings, flood, flash flood, and winter weather watches and warnings, some aviation products, and local forecast grids. The forecast products issued by a WFO are available on the website.[1]

The National Weather Service provides alert and warning information through official dissemination sources including:[2]

National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP)

The National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) form part of the National Weather Service. It is comprised of nine different centers that deliver national and global weather, water, climate and space weather guidance, forecasts, warnings and analyses to its Partners and External User Communities.[3]

The nine centers are:

  1. Aviation Weather Center provides aviation warnings and forecasts of hazardous flight conditions at all levels within domestic and international air space.
  2. Climate Prediction Center monitors and forecasts short-term climate fluctuations and provides information on the effects climate patterns can have on the nation.
  3. Environmental Modeling Center develops and improves numerical weather, climate, hydrological and ocean prediction through a broad program in partnership with the research community.
  4. National Hurricane Center provides forecasts of the movement and strength of tropical weather systems and issues watches and warnings for the North Atlantic and the Eastern Pacific ocean.
  5. NCEP Central Operations sustains and executes the operational suite of numerical analyses and forecast models and prepares NCEP products for dissemination.
  6. Ocean Prediction Center issues weather warnings and forecasts out to five days for the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans north of 30 degrees North.
  7. Space Weather Prediction Center provides space weather alerts and warnings for disturbances that can affect people and equipment working in space and on earth.
  8. Storm Prediction Center provides tornado and severe weather watches for the contiguous United States along with a suite of hazardous weather forecasts.
  9. Weather Prediction Center provides nationwide analysis and forecast guidance products out through seven days.

Storm Prediction Center (SPC)

Storm Prediction Center (SPC) Logo[7]

The Storm Prediction Center (SPC), located in Norman, Oklahoma, is tasked with forecasting the risk of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes in the contiguous United States. The agency issues convective outlooks, mesoscale discussions, and watches as a part of this process.

The Storm Prediction Center is responsible for forecasting the risk of severe weather caused by severe thunderstorms, specifically those producing tornadoes, hail 1 inch (2.5 cm) or larger, and winds 58 mph (93 km/h) or greater. The agency also forecasts hazardous winter and fire weather. It does so primarily by issuing convective outlooks, severe thunderstorm watches, tornado watches, and mesoscale discussions.[4]

National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL)

National Severe Storms Laboratory
(NSSL) Logo[8]

The National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) is a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather research laboratory located at the National Weather Center in Norman, Oklahoma. NSSL investigates all aspects of severe weather to improve severe weather warnings and forecasts in order to save lives and reduce property damage.

NSSL investigates all aspects of severe weather to improve severe weather warnings and forecasts in order to save lives and reduce property damage. Research areas include weather radar, automated algorithm detection tools for use with weather radar, and basic tornado research to understand how tornadoes form.

NSSL scientists developed the first Doppler weather radar, and have since contributed to the development of NEXRAD, as well as research mobile radar systems.[5]

National Weather Service (NWS) Weather Forecast Offices

+ Central Region

+ Eastern Region

+ Southern Region

+ Western Region

+ Alaska Region

+ Pacific Region




  1. National Weather Service (Forecast Map) – Website:
    National Weather Service (Weather Education) – Website:
    National Weather Service (Weather Awareness Events Calendar) – Website:
    NOAA – Weather – Ready Nation – Website:
    Subscribe to National Weather Service (NWS) National Public Alerts Atom Feeds:
    Sign up for National Weather Service (NWS) alerts and updates by email:
    NWS Directives System (NDS):
  2. NWS Email and SMS Weather Alert Services –
  3. National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) – Website:
  4. Storm Prediction Center (SPC) – Website:
  5. National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) – Website:
  6. Image Source: [Accessed June 12, 2013]
  7. Image Source: [Accessed June 12, 2013]
  8. Image Source: [Accessed June 12, 2013]