What is SKYWARN?
PARTICIPATING IN A SKYWARN® WEATHER NET
By participating in the Greater Pee Dee SKYWARN® Net you are actively providing the vital "ground truth" to the National Weather Service in Lincoln as they make critical and often life saving decision on severe weather warnings. To participate in the net you will need an hand held, mobile, or base station radio with VHF amateur radio. The W4PDE repeater can be accessed using the following method:
When first checking into the net follow these simple guidelines:
During the net follow these guidelines to help both the Net Control Operator and other participants:
The Net Control Operators (NCOs) have a lot of responsibility and duties, much of which is not heard over the air. Generally speaking the NCO will be monitoring 2 or more different radio systems. It is not uncommon for NCO to be talking on one of those when a station calls on the SKYWARN® Weather Net. Stations need to be patient and give the NCO a few extra seconds to switch radios or complete their traffic on the other system. Do not be surprised if you hear multiple different people filling in as NCO even during the same event.
NCOs will notify the participants as the National Weather Service issues new warnings or provides updates on existing warning. In addition the NCO will give some radar updates and interpretations. We recognize that some spotters today have radar capabilities with them in their vehicles but feel it is important for all to be aware of what we are seeing. Keep in mind that the radar images we are viewing are not real time. At best they are usually 3-6 minutes delayed. Storms can travel many miles and transition rapidly during that time. Make sure you are aware of the ACES as described on page 6 of the Weather Spotter's Field Guide .
The NCO will take the reports received and send them on to the National Weather Service and/or Emergency Management Agency in the location being affected. Not all traffic is passed on via radio, with today's technology other communications systems are also used and therefore your specific report may not be heard on your scanner.
When severe weather has left the area and initial damage assessment is completed the NCO will return the repeater to normal use. In the event of large scale damage the net may be continued. Further direction and information will be provided by the NCO.
We can not stress enough how important your safety is. Each participant must take personal responsibility for their own safety. The NCO is not sitting there next to you and can not see or assess the situation like you can. There is never a time when you should compromise your own personal safety based on the information you receive from NCO. Each participant of the SKYWARN® Weather Net should read and be familiar with the safety guidelines found on the first 14 pages of the Weather Spotter's Field Guide.
Absolutely not, in our area we are not promoting storm chasing. The media has picked up on the storm chasing aspect, which involves following the storm sometimes hundreds of miles on shows such as the Discovery Channel’s Storm Chasers. However spotters differ from chasers by reporting from local locations around the storm. Being a spotter does not mean you have to try to stay ahead of the storm or try to get video - it means being prepared to report what is occurring when a storm passes nearby or overhead. Not all chasers are hams, and some don't even report what they are seeing - so having ham radio equipped spotters is still vital, especially in our area since this is still the main communications method for severe weather activities. Storm spotters do not have to be mobile stations – reports from your home, office or work locations are just as valuable and help provide a safe shelter if needed. We encourage as many hams to participate in the weather net as can.
We can not stress how important the role of spotters who are located at home, office or other fixed locations especially at night when mobile storm spotting can be even more dangerous. If you are able we encourage you to check into the net and provide reports from your vantage point. The more information we are able to obtain and relay to the National Weather Service the better for all concerned.
We appreciate you taking the time to read through this article on the Peoria Area SKYWARN® Weather Net. If you have questions or comments about this article please feel free to contact the ECRT Team Lead from contacts page.