SKYWARN

Download the Allen County SKYWARN net operations manual.

Many members of the Fort Wayne Radio Club participate in the National Weather Service (NWS) SKYWARN® program. The members serve as volunteer storm spotters, using their radios to relay reports of certain severe weather phenomena to the Northern Indiana NWS weather forecast office (WFO) near North Webster.

During periods of severe weather, the Allen County, Indiana SKYWARN ham radio net (formerly known as the IMO SKYWARN Quadrant Two Net) meets on the ACARTS 146.88 MHz repeater. The FWRC 146.76 MHz repeater serves as an alternate, should the 146.88 repeater be unavailable. Because of the wide coverage area of the Fort Wayne repeaters, spotters from locations outside Allen County, Indiana are welcome to use the Allen County SKYWARN net to relay their reports to the Northern Indiana WFO.

The net has two modes: Standby (watch) mode and Directed Net (warning) mode.

  • Standby Mode: Normal repeater use continues but operators should keep transmissions short and leave enough time between transmissions to allow spotters to break in. A net control station monitors for such reports. Stations should call "SKYWARN" to make a report or inquirty (e.g. "SKYWARN, ths is N9XAA") The repeater sends a Morse code "W" as a reset tone. The repeater controller occaisionally makes a "weather watch" voice announcement.
  • Directed Net Mode: Normal repeater use is suspended. A net control station directs all communications. Check-ins are accepted only from stations that have a spotter report to make at the time. Stations should remain off the air until and unless they have a report that conforms to NWS reporting criteria (e.g. tornado, funnel cloud, wall cloud, wind damage, flash flood). To check in with a report, stations should transmit their call signs phonetically, followed by the type of report, and then wait for acknowlegement before transmitting the deails (e.g. "November nine x-ray alpha alpha, funnel cloud."). Any appropriately licensed station, regardless of location, including visitors to the area, are welcome to check in to make reports following the procedure above. The repeater sends a Morse code "N" as a reset tone. The repeater controller occaisionally makes a "weather net" voice announcement.

For more detailed information, see the operations manual for the Allen County SKYWARN net.

Below is additional information and news about SKYWARN operations.

NWS announces new plans for SKYWARN storm spotter training

The northern Indiana office of the National Weather Service (NWS) today announced new plans for volunteer storm spotter training as part of the NWS SKYWARN program.

The NWS office plans seven regional, multi-county spotter training sessions in 2014 (see the region map below). An NWS meteorologist will lead each regional session in person, rather than remotely via teleconference. The session for the region that includes Allen County, Indiana is scheduled to take place at Columbia City High School, 600 N. Whitley St., Columbia City, Ind. That session is scheduled for Feb. 18, beginning at 7 p.m. EST. The NWS will not conduct SKYWARN training in Allen County, Indiana in 2014 -- not even the remotely-presented training the NWS provided in 2013.

NWS map of training regions

Spotters and people interested in becoming spotters may attend any of the regional spotter training sessions listed on the NWS event calendar. It is not necessary to attend the session designated for your county. For example, residents of southern Allen County might prefer to attend the training that's scheduled in Bluffton, Ind. Regardless of which session you plan to attend, NWS requests that you register in advance, using the appropriate link on the NWS event calendar. Registration is not required but the NWS encourages registration to help it assure that it has sufficient facilities, etc. for the number of people who attend.

For those unable to attend any of the regional spotter training sessions in 2014, the NWS plans multiple other training opportunities. For more information, please see an email message below from Michael Lewis, the warning coordination meteorologist at the northern Indiana NWS office. See also this PDF document that outlines the various training modalities that the NWS office has planned.

From: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. [mailto:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.]
Sent: Monday, October 21, 2013 12:10 PM
Subject: Spotter Training Continues!

The process of learning is a life-long journey and ceases never!

The National Weather Service will be hosting a series of spotter training programs beginning in February and continuing through March of 2014.

We will be using Social Media to engage the public (especially our spotters) YouTube to provide a series of spotter instructional videos, webinars at various times to answer spotter specific questions, and seven in-person training sessions throughout the area.

More details will be posted on the NWS Skywarn Page (http://www.crh.noaa.gov/iwx/?n=nwsnorthernindianaskywarnpage)

Registration for the live spotter training can be found on our Event Calendar http://www.crh.noaa.gov/iwx/program_areas/outreach/index.php

Additionally, there are several FREE MetEd Online courses that are beneficial to all spotters.

http://www.crh.noaa.gov/iwx/?n=online_spotter_training

Keep on learning!

Michael Lewis
Warning Coordination Meteorologist
NWS Northern Indiana

SKYWARN frequency change might be necessary

Skywarn Logo Attention all operators:

During the past two activations of IMO SKYWARN quadrant two, the ACARTS 146.88 MHz repeater experienced intermittent transmitter failure. The most recent occurrence was at about 9 p.m. last night, June 24.

Please be aware that if the 146.88 MHz repeater exhibits the same issues during the severe weather expected today and tomorrow, the active net control station (whoever it is at the time) will move SKYWARN operations to the FWRC 146.76 MHz repeater.

This decision will be made on an as-needed basis. Ideally, however, if the issue arises early in the operation, SKYWARN will change frequencies sooner, rather than later, to avoid dealing with the issue during potential periods of heavy spotter reporting.

Read more: SKYWARN frequency change might be necessary

Summary of 2013 SKYWARN Spotter Training

About 35 people attended SKYWARN spotter training Feb. 26 at the Allen County Public Library. Here are some highlights:

Photo of spotters attending training sessionWarning Coordination Meteorologist Michael Lewis reminded spotters of the importance of their reports. He pointed out that studies have shown that members of the general public pay more attention to weather warnings when they include eyewitness reports. In other words, if a tornado warning says a spotter has seen a tornado on the ground, it’ll get a lot more response from the public than a possible tornado indicated by radar.

Reporting Methods

Lewis covered the preferred and less preferred reporting methods.

Read more: Summary of 2013 SKYWARN Spotter Training

SKYWARN Training Handouts

Due to budget constraints, paper handouts are/were not available during the Allen County SKYWARN spotter training Feb. 26. Below are links to the handouts, so you can view and/or print them for yourself. They are in PDF format, so you'll need Adobe Reader.

Reporting criteria (new for 2013)

Graphical depiction of how to maintain Severe Weather Awareness

Hail Chart

Beaufort Wind Chart (and Spotter Reporting Format)

Thunderstorm Type Chart and Associated Threats

QR Codes and Shortened Webpage Addresses

Owlie Skywarn Booklet (1.6 MB pdf) from NOAA's National Weather Service

Online SKYWARN Spotter Training

The Northen Indiana office of the National Weather Service recommends the resources below for onlie storm spotter traiing In the absence of in-person training by the National Weather Service. NWS also recommends these resources as the basis for volunteer-led spotter training:

 

SKYWARN Radio Operations Presentation Slides Available

In March 2012, IMO Quadrant Director Jay Farlow, W9LW, did a presentation to the Fort Wayne Radio Club on the topic of SKYWARN quadrant radio operations. The presentation included suggested resources for SKYWARN spotters. See a copy of the slides from Jay's presentation.

Page 2 of 2