Requirements for Participation
The South Canadian Amateur Radio Society (SCARS) has been involved in the SKYWARN program for decades. This document describes the roles that SKYWARN operators perform.
Most of the people that report to Cleveland County SKYWARN nets will be reporting from the home locations. Our members span the entire county and typically are able to respond by simply looking out their windows. Some authorized spotters will report to the favorite remote locations throughout the county.
You don’t need to be a meteorologist to be a storm-spotter! No home weather station is necessary, nor is a fancy “chase wagon”. It’s possible to be a spotter by 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, when the net control operator needs information from a specific area, weather reports will be requested. If you are in the area, feel free to respond, and report your situation. Please do not volunteer information, unless it is requested by a net control operator. Please be careful to report only conditions which meet the criteria given by net control. ALWAYS go through net-control, and give your information as clearly and calmly as possible.
Please do not relay any reports that you don’t have first-hand knowledge of.
Please do not report power outages. In the Cleveland County area, both OG&E and OEC have ‘smart meters’ that will report your power outage immediately. OG&E customer service is available at 405-272-9595. OEC is available at 405-321-2024.
The net can be heard on the 147.060 repeater in Norman. Please see the SCARS Repeater page for information regarding transmit offset, and CTCSS tone. Also, the backup repeater is the W5OU 146.88 MHz (minus offset), should there be any trouble with the main site. It is also recommended you set up your radio for SIMPLEX operation on 147.060, in case the repeater goes off the air. For SIMPLEX operation, no CTCSS tone is required, and you will program your radio to TRANSMIT AND RECEIVE on 147.060.
Authorized SKYWARN Spotters
What’s the difference? Authorized SKYWARN spotters are those who have completed certain training requirements, and are able to provide accurate information when called upon to do so. Authorized SKYWARN spotters are also encouraged to make themselves available during severe weather outbreaks. The difference is this; you’re not just a volunteer, you’re a TRAINED volunteer. Your training will allow you to provide information that can help the National Weather Service warn the nation. Documentation can be provided to Mark Kleine N5HZR, the Cleveland County Emergency Coordinator.
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:
- Must have completed an NWS Spotter Training Class in the last two years. This requirement is waived if you are a meteorologist.
- Must have a method for measuring hail.
- 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.
- FEMA ICS 100, 200, 700, and 800 classes are suggested for all spotters and operators.
2020 Authorized Spotters
- Larry Goodman, W5LHG
- Gary Grigsby, KG5LQX
- David Grizzle, KD5ZLG
- Ed Hatch, AG5DV
- Gordon Hudson, AG5GG
- Sean Kinner, N8RSQ
- Gayland Kitch, WX5MOR
- Mark Kleine, N5HZR
- Don Parker, W5DDP
- Gary Skaggs, WB5ULK
- Norbert Suchanek, WE5Z
- James Taylor, KG5RFH
- Randy Wing, N0LD
The National Weather Service has the following minimum reporting requirements. Please report conditions only when they meet the following criteria.
- Hail – 1-inch minimum. Quarter size or greater.
- Wind – Greater than 58 MPH / 50 knots.
- Tornado on the ground.
- Funnel Cloud.
- Rotating Wall Cloud.
- Persistent Wall Cloud.
- Rainfall, 1 inch or more per hour.
- Flash Flooding.
- Other items, as requested.
Net Control Station Operators
Whenever possible, 2 Lead Operators are “on duty” when a 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 a record of any weather observations which meet National Weather Service weather-reporting criteria. Lead Operator 2 will be the one to relay that information to the weather service by way of the NWSCHAT or telephone. 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. In the event that 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, and log sheets available. When Lead Operator 1 is again able to assume RELIABLE communications, they can resume a dual net control operation.
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.
Net Opening Criteria
As a reminder, when we go into a formal net, we’re looking only for trained, documented storm spotters, official EOC contacts, or reportable events. In Cleveland County, any net control operator may open a net from where they are. Our net control operators are usually in their home station, surrounded by their familiar operating environment. The individual Emergency Operating Centers (EOCs) will have people that check into the net from their facility as their workload permits. This allows the net to run smoothly while providing information for the Moore, Newcastle, Norman, and Cleveland County EOC locations.
Typical criteria for opening a SKYWARN net are:
- Tornado Warning for Cleveland County
- Thunderstorm Warning for Cleveland County
- Great potential for a Tornado or Thunderstorm warning for Cleveland County.
- Any event that requires organized communications.
Qualifications for Net Control Station and Operator
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. 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.
Anyone interested in becoming a Net Control Station may contact Cleveland County ARES Net Director Phil Sinnett KD5UGO or Cleveland County ARES EC Mark Kleine N5HZR.