Severe Weather Watch Network

Severe Weather Watch Network

 

MISSION: To provide reliable and prompt delivery of vital ground truth from storm spotters

to the National Weather Service, in accordance with its severe criteria, and in support of its mission to protect lives and property during severe weather.© Furthermore, to generate an interest in—and understanding of—weather phenomena; and to promote NWS storm spotter Skywarn training and participation within an all-inclusive environment.

The SkyHubLink system is excited to host the Severe Weather Outlook Net, weekdays, and Saturday’s at 1pm MT. This Outlook focuses primarily on Colorado, Wyoming, and the Nebraska Panhandle—within the auspices of the 5 NWS regional offices (see map & link pg. 2 below). The outlook also covers our valued partners in Socorro NM, the Sacramento Valley, Spokane WA, St. Cloud MN, Iron Mountain MI, and Saskatoon Saskatchewan.

During especially active weather, we air important NWS updates between 8-10am, at 4pm MT, and at any other time when the public may be under threat.

Severe Weather Rooms have been added, whereby we gather repeaters together within an outbreak area, segregating them from the system at large. These discrete Rooms support dialog between Net Control, Storm Spotters, and the public. Timely NWS severe information is provided to the room. Participants radio severe reports to Net Control which, in turn, are immediately relayed to the appropriate NWS office via a secure NOAA platform. We are also adding multi-mode access to these Severe Weather Rooms that, for example, allows a cellphone to come via Echolink, etc.

If you wish to monitor the activity in the SkyHubLink Colorado  Severe “Room” in Telegram, here’s the link: https://t.me/+SQj3cupQrYMSgjPz

MORE EXCITING THINGS TO COME!

SkyHubLink is seeking ham radio operators with a general knowledge of weather and NWS storm spotter (Skywarn) training who can jump in as NET controls for affected areas during severe outbreaks.

For information or to volunteer your talents, contact:

Gary NC2WX, Network Coordinator, at weather.nc2wx@gmail.com

Jack KEØVH, SkyHubLink Administrator, at ke0vh@outlook.com

We experience many types of extreme weather: tornadoes, hail, microbursts, damaging winds, flash and areal flooding, wildfires, droughts, heatwaves, and blizzards.

You’re most likely to hear activity during the summer severe storm season. However, significant, large-scale winter storms may also warrant net activation.

Activations are intended to collect, analyze, and traffic severe reports to your Weather Service office as efficiently and quickly as possible. Also, we strive to further your understanding of severe phenomena.

Real-time National Weather Service and NOAA info (warnings, etc.) is aired on the SkyHubLink system as necessary.

SkyHubLink Severe Weather Network Rooms

Colorado Northeast (NWS Boulder, NWS Goodland)

Colorado Southeast (NWS Pueblo)

Colorado All East

Colorado Western Slope (NWS Grand Junction)

Wyoming/Panhandle Nebr. (NWS Cheyenne)

Announcements that a Severe Weather Room is activated will occur periodically. For instance, if there is an outbreak in northeast Colorado, we will open that room, which segregates these analog repeaters together and off SkyHubLink.

Click for your NWS region in the USA and Territories:  https://www.weather.gov/gsp/nwsCWAMap

DO NOT ASSUME OTHERS HAVE ALREADY REPORTED THE SEVERE WEATHER

YOU ARE SEEING!   REPORT IT!

 

Net Activations—Informational, Informal, Formal

Every effort is made to avoid interfering with conversations & nets on the SkyHubLink.

You may hear periodic NWS warning or advisory announcements. This does not mean the system is in a net mode. If an informational, informal, or formal net is activated, it will usually be within a Severe Weather Room and announced periodically. If you aren’t sure, simply call out and ask.

  • Informational, no net is yet activated. NWS announcements air as needed and there may be weather conversations. The SkyHubLink and/or the Severe Weather Room operate normally. Upon Severe Weather Room activation, the Severe Weather Watch Network may be set to an informal or a directed net.
  • Informal Nets occur in a Severe Weather Room and are most common. A Net Coordinator will be present. The Room is open for all weather use and station-to-station traffic. We ask that you keep transmissions shorter. Severe announcements take place, along with heads-ups on developments, and periodic conversations about events. Severe reports may be trafficked. Leave at least 5-7 seconds between transmissions for priority traffic to break in. End each transmission with your callsign.
  • Formal, Directed Nets are used during significant, widespread severe weather. During directed nets, all communications must be passed through the Net Control Station. Traffic will usually be limited to priority and severe reports, severe observations, and Warnings information.

Always adhere to guidance from the Network Coordinator or NC. All amateur radio operators across Colorado and Wyoming are encouraged to participate. Ask questions, report observations, and further your understanding of severe weather.

 

Severe Weather Net Operating Procedure

When checking in to a net, please do the following:

  • Turn on either APRS or Spotter Network beaconing. Spotter Network probably works best. (No worries if you don’t have these).
  • Clearly state your callsign twice.
  • NWS Spotter Number if you have one.
  • Location—current and anticipated.
  • Clear every transmission with your callsign.
  • Allow 5-7 seconds between transmissions for priority to break-in.
  • Advise NC of all location changes.
  • NC will frequently address you by your Suffix, usually phonetically.
  • ALWAYS advise NC when you are checking out of the net, arriving home, or QRT!

KEEP CALM, BREATHE DEEP, WAIT 30-60 SECONDS, WATCH

 

Reporting Criteria

Net Control is your guide as to what/what not to report. This depends on how deep we are into storm evolution and scope, magnitude, and the amount of traffic in the Severe Weather Room. Usually, reports are limited to NWS Severe Thresholds.

YOUR REPORT MUST INCLUDE:

  • Event ‘Name’ (e.g., Hail, Rotating Wall Cloud, Funnel Cloud, Straight-line Wind)
  • Current location
  • Event Location, (advise if estimated) e.g., street/road intersections, mile markers, miles & direction from a known locality
  • County in which event is located—important
  • Description—brief but concise, lose adjectives whenever possible
  • Clear with your callsign and wait to confirm the readback from NC.

Sometimes, criteria may be modified by NWS based on need. NWS may want hail reports to as small as 1/4” including fall field depth, instead of the usual size of 0.75” and larger.

Listen carefully to Net Control for guidance. Too many non-severe reports can unnecessarily overload communications in a SkyHubLink Severe Weather Room.

 

What to Report to Severe Weather Net Control

Gather your thoughts. When in doubt, wait and observe for another few moments

  • Tornadoes, landspouts, gustnadoes—confirm that formation is on the ground
  • Funnel cloud/condensation funnel, look carefully at surface for dust/debris
  • Wall Clouds may be very slowly rotating. Should be attached to cloud base in or near the clear slot, away from rain shaft. Scud—ragged clouds detached from the storm base—are tricky. If they’re very near or under a wall cloud, then watch closely and we need to discuss because they may be part of a somewhat invisible, possibly weak, rotation.
  • Micro & Macro (large) downbursts, look for rain/dust spreading away at surface
  • Damaging straight-line winds blowing down trees and powerlines, damaging buildings (see wind speed estimation below). Handheld anemometer measurements are bes.
  • Hail, usually 0.75” largest side (1”+ is severe) (see hail reporting graphic below)
  • Rain Rates, 1”/hr urban, 1.5”/hr rural
  • Flooding of rivers, creeks, drainages, homes, buildings, roadways

In the case of roadway flooding that is a danger to traffic, first call 911. Then, report the heads-up to Net Control, clearly stating that you have reported to 911. NC will relay the heads-up to NWS. Some NWS offices want road flooding reported only to emergency management which, in turn, relays the report to them.

  • Whiteout snow conditions with visibility less than 0.5 miles

Participants are encouraged to share reports of the severity they’re observing. However, exclude reports such as ‘light rain’ or ‘it’s clear here’ unless called for. Always be ready to give an estimate of direction and distance of the event from your location. If you’re uncertain of the severity, please state that to Net Control.

 

What to Report to 911

  • Traffic accidents due to severe weather
  • Dangerous road conditions due to severe weather, including flooding. Call a heads-up to NC afterward, clearly stating that you have already reported this to 911
  • Structural damage due to severe weather
  • Downed power lines and poles anywhere

 

Click here for cloud identification chart & descriptions:

https://www.weather.gov/jetstream/cloudchart#myModalh4

Click here for graphics on storm identification, reporting, and safety:

http://www.k3r7wx.com/wxsafety.html

(Even though it’s from Louisiana, nearly all is pertinent to our area & elsewhere. Have a close look at the Thunderstorm Risk Categories)

Click for concise Spotter Field Guide (72 pg. PDF produced by NWS Norman, OK)

https://www.weather.gov/media/oun/spottertraining/basicspotterguide.pdf

 

General Severe Warnings Thresholds

  • Severe Thunderstorm: hail 1” or greater with winds 58mph or greater.
  • Heavy rain: reportable at 1” per hour or greater. Often coupled with thunderstorm parameters above to define severe.
  • Tornado: Tightly rotating column of air attached to a thunderstorm cloud AND in contact with the ground.
  • Funnel Cloud: Tightly rotating column of air attached to a thunderstorm but NOT in contact with ground. Requires careful observation of surface beneath, since may be invisible near surface. Normally prompts Warning.
  • Flash Flood: Short duration (usually <6hrs), sudden, intense flooding.
  • Flood or Areal Flood: Longer (often many hrs), more gradual flooding after excessive rainfall or snowmelt; usually prolonged river/stream flooding.
  • Blizzard: winds sustained 35+mph, or frequent gusts to 35+; blowing snow and visibility <1/4mi, all for 3 or more hours.
  • Snow Squall: Visibility 1/4mi or less with sub-freezing road temperatures. Or flash-freezing with significant reduction in visibility from falling and/or blowing snow.
  • Ice Storm: any freezing rain event.
  • Red Flag: Critical fuels paired with winds (sustained or gusting) >25mph with humidity <15%. Or critical fuels paired with widely scattered dry thunderstorms. Often initiates a Dry Thunderstorm Fire Risk advisory.
  • Dust Storm: visibility <1/4mi for at least 1hr along with winds (sustained or gusting) 25+mph. May be either localized or widespread.
  • High Straight-line Wind: sustained at 50+mph for 1+ hrs, or gusts at 58+mph for any duration.

 

Wind Speed Estimation

Less than 1 mph – Smoke rises vertically

1-3 mph – Light Air Movement – Smoke drift indicates wind direction, still wind vanes

4-7 mph – Light Breeze – Wind felt on face, leaves rustle, vanes begin to move

8-12 mph – Leaves and small twigs constantly moving, light flags extended

13-18 mph – Moderate Breeze – Dust, leaves, loose paper lifted, small branches move

19-24 mph – Fresh Breeze – Small trees in leaf begin to sway

25-31 mph – Strong Breeze – Larger tree branches moving, whistling in wires

32-38 mph – Near Gale – Whole trees moving, resistance felt walking against wind

39-46 mph – Gale – Twigs breaking off trees, generally impedes progress

47-54 mph – Strong Gale – Slight structural damage; shingles may lift off roofs

55-63 mph – Storm force – Trees broken or uprooted, considerable structural damage

58+ mph (60 knots) is severe threshold

64-72+ mph – Violent storm force – Widespread tree and structural damage

 

Hail—severe 1”, reportable at ¾” (sometimes adjusted downward)

Snow Measurement

Some things you should keep in mind when measuring snow:

  • NWS appreciates liquid equivalent in addition to accumulated depth.
    • Can easily be accomplished with a 4” diameter, 14” tall rain/snow gauge.
    • Available from a variety of sources including CoCoRaHS.org.

GARY, NC2WX

The SkyHubLink Severe Weather Watch Network had its first net activation during the weekend of March 13-14, 2021, during a massive and dangerous winter storm.  Thanks to Matt KØLWC and Daryl W3ORR for their great job in handling the NET and for initiating an unstoppable, ever-growing program!

Education Opportunities

NWS Norman, OK—numerous Skywarn Spotter videos, field guides, FAQs, and much more: https://www.weather.gov/oun/skywarn

Comet MetEd weather education courses: https://www.meted.ucar.edu/index.php