Weather Nets, and severe weather procedures

As many of you know, one of my driving factors for finally getting licensed was to become involved in the Skywarn program and to become an active storm spotter. I have taken one of the NWS spotter classes, but I was wondering if someone might be able to walk us all through what the Net Control of a weather net looks like.

I was not able to get out of the house tonight so like many of you I enjoyed listening to the active weather nets as the storms rolled through Oklahoma and into our backyards. I know Washington Co and Benton Co both had active nets tonight, and the Benton Co one was ran by BCRO members Paul and Mark. Thank you for your efforts sirs.

I was just wondering if someone would be willing to share the details on what happens once a Weather Net is declared. Here are a few of my questions. Please feel free to add any questions you may have as well. This is a position I would be interested in assisting with in the future so I would really like to learn the nuts and bolts of how we serve our communities.

  1. What activates a Weather Net?

  2. Do we work with the NWS out of Tulsa to relay reports actively during an event? I know we are usually the tail end of these storms, but there are still people in the path that need updated info. Just didn’t know if the NWS cared to hear from us once it clears OK.

  3. Do we work with the county in any capacity to relay our reports back to LEO, FD, and EMS that may be working the impacted areas?

  4. Does Net Control ever “dispatch” spotters in a general direction to make sure we have coverage?

  5. Just based on past activity, how many mobile spotters do we usually have active in NWA?

Sorry for all the questions, but I am genuinely curious about how this all works in our area as we head into the most active part of storm season.

Thank you in advance, and 73 :base_station: :+1:

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Well as for your #2 I do tend to work direct with the NWS in Tulsa when in my home area, I did checkin with WX5TUL which is the Tulsa NWS Net Control tonight from my work location in Fayetteville. This is done through the TARC wide area network linked repeater system at w5ias.com
when not in my home area CAREN Link System and Southwest Missouri SKYWARN Link System Link to Little Rock NWS and Springfield NWS respectfully.

#5 I am usually at work or I would be more mobile.

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@KG5TUD are you saying you worked with the NWS as Net Control, or that you reported directly to the NWS as a spotter?

Reported direct as a spotter

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This is what I am most interested in on this topic. When you report direct, do you just check in with WX5TUL? I wasn’t aware they cared about Washington or Benton county. I’m in the same boat as Greg here in that I primarily got my license to participate in emergency communications/event communications (think Ture de Cure).

I’ve all but beat my head against my desk trying to figure out the “right way” to do things but as of yet haven’t been successful. Here’s the steps I have taken and almost all of them have been a dead-end:

  1. I contacted ARRL section leaders for Arkansas/NW Arkansas ARES/RACES - got zero responses
  2. I took the “storm spotter training” provided by NWS twice - this was helpful in learning about storms but not so much in helping me understand the authority of activating spotters and where to report to
  3. I signed up with Spotter Network - This is one way to report and integrates with my radar software, but kinda defeats the purpose of going out and using my ham radio to report to NWS
  4. I have attempted to participate in local weather nets - my issue here goes back to who’s authority do spotters get activated under… I want to know that if I’m going to risk damaging my car, or potentially putting myself in a dangerous situation (even though as a spotter you are supposed to avoid the storm), that it was worth it, and my reports potentially helped people stay informed during hazardous weather.
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You nailed it with this part, and the basis of my curiosity to learn more. I’m not concerned about damage in the interest of being a service to my community. What I don’t understand is where amateur radio fits into all this anymore. That breaks my heart honestly, but what I have observed is more of a ham’s weather club where there are a lot of spotters checked into the nets, but the majority of them are sitting in their shack for the most part not able to provide real time useful information to Net Control that can be used to confirm radar. One good exception being Van who has a weather station and is able to (and did) report measured rainfall and wind speeds.

The NWS can only see so much from radar and they need the people in the field to confirm what they are tracking. If those confirmations are coming from the internet or cell networks now ham probably needs to take a back seat as a reporting tool, and just needs to be prepared to step up to support EmCom duties if cell and landline services go down due to a storm.

I hope my comments do not come off as being negative on this topic. It is the opposite in fact. I have a passion for this side of radio communications, and I just want to make sure that passion is properly focused to best serve our communities.

They cover 7 Arkansas counties. They work through TARC/W5IAS and the repeaters are switched from W5IAS to WX5TUL when there are severe weather nets in their area of coverage NWS Tulsa will activate the nets.
w5ias.com Eastern OK / NW Arkansas SKYWARN page
https://www.weather.gov/tsa/spotter_training and look under Local Programs

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I requested an account well over two years ago to the OKARK skywarn site. I thought that page was dead. Good to know it’s still up.

It is still alive they have been doing a bit of work on it

This would be a good topic for a BCRO meeting . . . Wait no meetings . . Net discussion!

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@k5unx I had actually hoped to open this discussion up some on Thursday’s net, but I couldn’t reach the repeaters. From my HT and mag mount for some reason.

1.A weather net is activated and run by NWAEMCOMM when Benton county sends a tornado watch. An informal net may be started any time the weather is projected by Tulsa to be needed and our area is in the path.
2. All reports are called to the Benton county emergency operations center by phone by the net controller. These are passed on to Tulsa weather by the eoc.
3. See above.
4. If we have mobile spotters and they are in a position that can be easly moved to help spotting we would ask them if they can move.
5. We have no mobile spotters that go out at this time. What mobile we end up with depends on on those out running errands or going to or from work. It very much depends on time of day and day of the week. Anyone that would like to mobile spot we would greatly appreciate their help.

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Thanks for the response Paul. Does net control (usually you or Mark) keep an open line with BC EOC, or are calls made as needed? On that same topic, do you have a specific contact you work with or do they of a reporting line that we call into?

They have an emergency line that we call to make reports and we also have special contacts that can activate us to come into the eoc and operate the net form there on the ham radios that we maintain there for them. We have badge access for our operators 24/7.

Paul B Blomgren, Jr

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