Skywarn is one of our priority activities. It is included and planned for within the ARES domain, which we also support as much as possible. Usually each year before severe storm season we schedule beginning and advanced weather spotter training sessions in conjunction with other Ham clubs in our area. The training is very important for those who participate in Skywarn because we have many listeners. In addition to scanner listeners who have learned to tune to the 145.23 repeater, some of the meteorologists at our weather service office in Greenville, SC, as well as some meteorologists at our local TV stations, have become Hams interested in what we can contribute.
When severe weather threatens our region, key people are contacted by the National Weather Service, or sometimes we, as trained weather spotters, initiate contact with the National Weather Service. With the various weather radar systems used today, during a severe weather event there is still a need for tactical, local, eyewitness reporting. In past storms, when a significant sighting was reported by an Amateur Radio spotter, the National Weather Service Watch was immediately upgraded to a Warning. We can attribute this to our weather spotter training, and the integrity that we strive for. Let’s all be sure we become familiar with proper procedures before we jump into a Skywarn net.
“Insignificant” chatter should be kept to a minimum during a Skywarn net unless solicited by Net Control. As a review, here are the reporting criteria for severe weather. Conditions other than these are interesting to us, but not significant to the National Weather Service.
1. Winds in excess of 58 MPH. That’s the speed where wind impedes walking, some trees uproot, and damage to structures can occur.
2. Wind damage has occurred, with broken or uprooted trees, or with damaged mobile homes or buildings.
3. Hail ¾ inch diameter or larger (nickel size), or as far as we’re concerned a little smaller dime size.
4. Rainfall greater than 1 inch per hour, or 2.3 inches in 3 hours. In Charlotte, less rainfall than that will cause local flooding in which we are interested, but is not a reporting criteria.
5. Sighting of a tornado, a funnel cloud, or a rotating wall cloud.
So Don’t Just Do Something! Sit There!
You flip on your radio and hear an ARES or a Skywarn net in progress. You don’t know what’s going on. What should you do? Here are some tips.
1. KEEP QUIET. Don’t ask what’s going on. Don’t ask if it’s real or a drill. Don’t offer to help. Don’t answer questions. Don’t relay. Don’t tell other people to shut up. Don’t ask weak stations to say again, and don’t tell them how to fix their radio. Don’t ask where this repeater is located. Don’t ask if your friend Lonnie who used to live up this way has checked in because he had a real good signal back in 1965. Just KEEP QUIET and LISTEN!
2. Tips 2 through 9 are the same as Tip 1.
10. If after carefully listening long enough to understand what is going on, you discover that you can be of specific assistance, check in when it is not disruptive of the ongoing activity on the net. If net control asks for any other checkins, that would be a good time to check in. If net control asks for stations in Gaston or York county, it is disruptive to check in from Bushwack county. After you are recognized by net control, return to Tip 1 until asked to transmit again.