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.
Trained members of the Metro/Douglas County ARES respond to the NWS office in Valley, NE upon request of the NWS Staff to provide reports of severe weather across most of the office’s 38 county and surrounding counties. These members serve as a liaison between the various county spotter groups and the NWS Forecast Office in Valley. The NWS Station is equipped with FM/DSTAR/APRS and even has HF capability. These members monitor not only the local repeaters but as many others as possible during severe weather. With the 146.940(-) KØUSA’s wide coverage, many outlying communities report to the NWS office via that repeater. While Douglas County ARES is the primary liaison operator provider, there is no MDARES membership requirement to be on the list to go to the NWS office. There may be an operator at the NWS office even if no Severe Weather is threatening the immediate area.
Within Douglas County, spotters are requested by Douglas County EMA. When a net is activated it will be called on the 146.940 KØUSA repeater. Within Douglas County, spotters are deployed to fixed locations to observe the storm. Chasing the storm is not permitted as a member of the MDARES. Reports from all area amateur, deployed to a watch point or not, will be accepted by the NCS station. The more reports there are the better the information is. After the storm, reports from spotters and amateurs around the county can give both Douglas County EMA and the National Weather Service valuable information.
If you are interested in providing an invaluable public service during severe weather, have an amateur radio license and are willing to commit to training designed to improve skills as a severe weather spotter and as an effective communicator, we welcome you to the team.