Requirements for Participation
The South Canadian Amateur Radio Society (SCARS) has been involved in the Skywarn program for decades.
You don’t need to be a meteorologist to be a storm-spotter! No home weather station is necessary, no fancy “chase wagon”. It’s possible to be a spotter by just looking out the window and reporting severe-weather phenomena. In fact, as a Ham Radio Operator, you can be of great assistance during severe-weather outbreaks. All you need is your eyes and a radio with which to report what you see. During severe-weather outbreaks, weather reports will be taken from any and all locations within the affected areas. If the Skywarn Net is activated, the Lead Operator will instruct storm-spotters on what criteria must be met before reports will be accepted. You may check-in to the Net with your SPOTTER NUMBER (if you have been issued one), or by Callsign, name and location. Please be careful to report only conditions which closely resemble or meet those criteria given by the Lead Operator. ALWAYS go through net-control (Lead Operator), and give your information as clearly and calmly as possible.
The net, if activated, can be heard on the 147.060 repeater in Norman. Please see the SCARS Repeater Status page for information regarding transmit offset, PL tone, etc. (NO PL tone is required if the net is activated. That makes it possible for anyone who might not have the tone to still be able to get into the net to report storm activity). It is also recommended you set up your radio for SIMPLEX operation on 147.060, also – just in case the repeater goes off the air. For SIMPLEX operation, no PL tone is required, and you will program your radio to TRANSMIT AND RECEIVE on 147.060.
Authorized Skywarn Spotters
What’s the difference, you ask? Authorized Skywarn spotters are those who have completed certain requirements, and are therefore more able to give accurate information when called upon to do so. Authorized Skywarn spotters are also encouraged to make themselves available during severe weather outbreaks. So, the basic difference is this; you’re not just a volunteer, you’re a TRAINED volunteer – and you will have been issued a SPOTTER NUMBER. A current listing of authorized Skywarn spotters and SPOTTER NUMBERS can be found attached to the SCARS membership roster located on the SCARS website.
To ensure the weather service and local emergency management officials receive timely weather reports of the highest quality, and to ensure maximum Skywarn NET efficiency, hams wishing to participate as an AUTHORIZED Skywarn SPOTTER:
1) Must have completed an NWS Spotter Training Class in the last two years. This requirement is waived if you are a meteorologist (except for lead operator – see below);
2) Should have a ruler for measuring hail (other, more expensive, instruments are encouraged, but not necessary. Rulers, by comparison are very inexpensive);
3) Should have current maps available or a good knowledge of the area, in order to follow what others are reporting; Should be able to estimate wind speeds.
Net Control Station Operators
Whenever possible, there will be 2 Lead Operators “on duty” when the Skywarn Net is activated. Lead Operator 1 will assume primary responsibility for actual Net Control radio operations. Lead Operator 1 will activate the Net, read the appropriate script(s), take check-ins and record any weather observations from spotters. Lead Operator 2 will assist Lead Operator 1 by listening for and making record of any weather observations which meet National Weather Service severe-weather reporting criteria. Lead Operator 2 will be the one to relay that information to the weather service by way of phone or link repeater. Lead Operator 2 MUST have the ability to transmit and receive on BOTH the 147.060 freq. and the link repeater freq, and MUST be able to monitor one while transmitting on the other. Lead Operator 2 will relay any special information to Net Control (Lead Operator 1). If a situation makes it necessary, Net Control will allow Lead Operator 2 to communicate directly with a spotter to gain information urgently needed by the weather service. In the event that Net Control Lead Operator 1 is unable to access the repeater (weak battery, bad location, etc), Lead Operator 2 will IMMEDIATELY assume full Net Control responsibility. That means Lead Operator 2 must also have the scripts, maps, log sheets, etc available. When Lead Operator 1 is again able to assume RELIABLE communications, the Net will again assume the 2-operator status.
All Network Control Station Operators must be aware of the weather outlooks and conditions at all times. If severe weather threatens, Network Control Station Operators are expected to make every effort to be available should the need arise. Lead Operators are encouraged to keep in touch by phone or radio and let any other authorized Lead Operator(s) know if they will be unavailable. It is very apparent that one’s job, a vacation, etc, might keep one from being available. The important thing is to just try to keep one another aware of when these things might come up.
Qualifications for Net Control Station and Operator are:
1) Should be capable of operating on emergency power. Radios, computers, Internet access, and lights should all be available with, or without commercial power.
2) Should be able to access the SCARS main repeater W5NOR (147.06 MHz +600 kHz PL 141.3 Hz), backup repeater W5OU (146.880 MHz -600 kHz, No PL) and relay repeater (145.410 MHz +600 kHz, PL 141.3) with sufficient clarity to run the net in all weather conditions.
3) MUST be able to monitor one frequency while talking on another;
4) Should have current maps available. Maps must include the Cleveland/McClain County areas, and should be as detailed as possible.
5) Must be able to obtain the Hazardous Weather Outlook and all watches and warnings for the covered area, and be able to participate in the NWSChat system, to report directly to the NWS.
6) Should have previous net control experience and MUST have the ability to remain calm and professional on the air. You will definitely need to be the type of person who is able to do several things at once without losing your head.
7) Must use the Scripts and Log sheets as provided.
8) Net Control Station Operators MUST be a current member of SCARS, and ARES OK. SCARS has offered the use of the 147.060 repeater for Skywarn Net operations. We will respect that trust by enforcing this requirement.