Muscatine County ARES - Amateur Radio Emergency Service
SKYWARN - Information and Procedures ARES ID# 139IAØ1
SKYWARN plays a critical role in all types of severe weather emergencies and disaster responses. It is important to note that NWS' technical abilities to forecast weather -- use of radar, satellites, etc. -- has improved our warning and reporting, but no technology can beat a report from a live observer on the ground. Thus, SKYWARN trained Amateur Radio operators/observers are extremely valuable to NWS forecast offices and ARES emergency coordinators.
As a member of the National Weather Service’s SKYWARN program, the Muscatine County ARES Team activates during severe weather conditions to provide reports of severe weather and damage in Muscatine County and surrounding counties, to the National Weather Service’s Forecast Office in Davenport, IA.
Our Team is composed of licensed Amateur Radio operators who have training, certification, and experience in Advanced Storm Spotting and in emergency communications. We keep our knowledge up-to-date through continuing education and our skills sharp through participation in drills, exercises, and simulated tests. During activation our stationary team members are positioned, and our mobile team members are deployed, throughout Muscatine County where they observe local weather conditions in the field and relay severe weather information and damage reports to the Net Control operator of the Muscatine County Severe Weather Net.
The Net Control Operator of the Muscatine County Severe Weather Net serves as the liaison between the Muscatine County SKYWARN Team and the NWS Forecast Office in Davenport by forwarding reports from our team members and other spotters in the field in Muscatine County to the NWS office, as well as them also monitoring the 146.910 repeater and catching some of the reports live.
If you have a desire to serve the public during severe weather, have an amateur radio license and are willing to be a team player, and are willing to participate in training programs designed to improve your skills as a severe weather spotter and effective communicator, then we would be happy to have you join our team.
Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) is an umbrella organization involved in emergency preparedness.
The National Weather Service utilizes ham radio as part of its severe weather spotting network. Iowa is served by several National Weather Service Forecast Offices. Our area facility is in the Quad Cities (Davenport) WX1NWS:
In addition to following the general observation guidelines, spotters utilizing amateur radio should also be familiar with the guidelines for reporting via radio to ensure efficiency and clarity between all stations and net control.
Transmit your CALL SIGN plus one of the KEY WORDS listed above in the “Criteria” list.
The net control station (NCS) will then acknowledge with your CALL SUFFIX and the words “GO AHEAD”.
On your next transmission state the CONDITION, TIME, LOCATION, and SOURCE (CTLS).
After receiving your report the NCS will then acknowledge your last transmission.
TIME should be in standard 12 hour format.
LOCATION should be your county, affected city or town (nearest major cross streets if possible).
CONDITION: What weather event from your “KEYWORD” is happening.
SOURCE: Your call sign. If you are reporting a weather event from another source, please name that source.
Example of an on-air exchange:
Reporting Station: “This is WØXYZ… HAIL”
Net Control Station: “XYZ, GO AHEAD”
Reporting Station: “MEASURED ¾-INCH HAIL, OCCURING NOW AT 4:35 PM, STORY COUNTY, 1 MILE NE OF MAXWELL, WØXYZ”.
Net Control Station: “ROGER, XYZ, COPY MEASURED ¾-INCH HAIL, OCCURRING NOW AT 4:35PM, STORY COUNTY, 1 MILE NE OF MAXWELL,”. (if any other information is needed, NCS will ask the calling station). This is KØABC.”
Tornado / Land spout
Funnel Cloud – Be sure of your observations!
Wall Cloud – Is it rotating or non-rotating? Watch for a minute or two before reporting.
Flooding – Blocked or washed out roads, bridges, railroads, water over banks of rivers, curb, evacuations, etc.
Hail – Use a coin size to report (don’t use “marble sized”). See NWS table on terms to use for reporting hail size.
High Winds – 58 MPH or greater. Indicate if report is estimated or measured. See NWS table to help estimate wind speed.
Storm Damage – Large grove of trees downed, power lines, windows blown out, major roof/building, vehicles blown over, etc.
Visibility – When visibility is less than ½ mile due to rain or blowing dirt.
Rainfall – 1/4 inch in 15 minutes, 1 inch in an hour. Rain gage reports should include start and end times.
NOTE: The NWS, or Net Control Station (NCS) may limit reports to certain conditions when a life-threatening event is imminent! Remember, Only one person can transmit and be heard at one time! If the NCS says you are a weak station, break your report into small segments to make sure the NCS is able to copy you!