Reference Cities for Use by Severe Weather Spotters


All severe weather reports relayed to NWS meteorologists at the Milwaukee/Sullivan Office by trained spotters must utilize the following standards to describe the location of the weather phenomena:


Distance and compass direction from the nearest city/village known as a reference city.


Distance is regarded as distance to the nearest one tenth of a mile (0.1 mile) from the recognized center of a city/village (not the edge or limits of the city/village).  This may be an intersection of major roads that may be considered the center, or a cluster of administrative buildings.


We require this format because radar information (pathcasts) in NWS warnings and associated follow-up statements is based on distance from the geographic center of cities/villages.  In addition, post-storm information written in Local Storm Reports (LSR’s) sent to all media outlets, and the Storm Data publication use this notation.


Cities and villages that can be used are found on the standard State of Wisconsin road map, and are given in the documents below.  The event location should also be referenced with one of the 16 compass points (N, NNE, NE, ENE, E, ESE, SE, SSE, S, SSW, SW, WSW, NW, and NNW).   Of course, the county from which the report is originating from is required, because some cities overlap two county lines.



                                             2.2 E Jefferson, Jefferson Co.

                                                      2.4 NE Waupun, Fond du Lac Co.

                                                      0.5 E Cobb, Iowa Co.

                                                      3.7 S Mitchell Field, Milwaukee Co.

                                                      5.5 WSW Madison, Dane Co.


However, for some cities, such as Milwaukee, the political/cultural center has been defined as the center of that city.  In some cases, the geo-political center may be the intersection of two main roads, or the village/city square/courthouse, or where the city hall and administrative buildings are found (the political/cultural center).  The references indicated below eliminate any ambiguities associated with the potential of more than one spotter using more than one location for a given reference point.


Note:   Spotters are to determine their reference point using the lat/long data pair as the first option, and the given intersection of two roads as the second option using the information provided in the documents provided via the links below.  For many reference cities, the lat/long location will not be exactly the same as the intersection location, however these two locations should be fairly close.


Over time, there will be “how to” documentation added using various available tools.  Please check often for any updates.  If you wish to be notified of any updates to this site, please e-mail the webmaster and you will be placed on the notification list.  If you have any tips or tricks that you would like to share with others, please e-mail them to the webmaster.  Your contributions would be greatly appreciated.

The locations given for the indicated references are thought to be as accurate as possible; both in written description and in latitude/longitude coordinates.  However, there may be errors noted by the user base.  If there are errors noted in the references, please contact the webmaster with the reference name(s) in question and the suggested correction(s).  Your assistance in keeping these documents accurate is appreciated.

Otherwise, please contact the webmaster if there are any other questions or concerns.


Reference City Documents – All Counties               pdf     html    text      


Reference City Documents – By County

Columbia                                                                 pdf     html    text

Dane                                                                        pdf     html    text

Dodge                                                                      pdf     html    text

Fond du Lac                                                            pdf     html    text

Green                                                                      pdf     html    text

Green Lake                                                              pdf     html    text

Iowa                                                                         pdf     html    text

Jefferson                                                                 pdf     html    text

Kenosha                                                                  pdf     html    text

Lafayette                                                                 pdf     html    text

Marquette                                                                pdf     html    text

Milwaukee                                                                pdf     html    text

Ozaukee                                                                  pdf     html    text

Racine                                                                     pdf     html    text

Rock                                                                        pdf     html    text

Sauk                                                                        pdf     html    text

Sheboygan                                                              pdf     html    text

Walworth                                                                 pdf     html    text

Washington                                                             pdf     html    text

Waukesha                                                                pdf     html    text