Category: SKYWARN

What to report

Douglas County Amateur Radio Emergency Service is dedicated to public service and support of our served agencies. One of the primary functions in this area is participation as weather spotters. Note that this is the only emergency where self-activation is permitted. Once you hear of severe weather in your area, you should monitor 146.940 and give your report to the Net Control Operator.
If you observe severe weather and there is no net, please use the information you received at spotter training to report directly to the NWS office.

The most important requirement of weather spotting and reporting is SPEED, ACCURACY and VERIFICATION.

SPEED…is needed to offer ample warning time to areas in the path of an impending severe storm. Reporting visual sightings as quickly as possible allows the NWS to expedite the warning process.

With the advancement of the more sophisticated radar, complemented by the visual information of trained SKYWARN spotters, lives and property can be saved not only in your community but also in other counties and communities in the storm’s path. important because the equipment and information available to the NWS are not always sufficient to determine the on site conditions of severe weather. NWS personnel depend on trained local observers (spotters) to identify, report, and verify conditions in their area.

VERIFICATION…is needed after the weather event has passed. Spotters are trained to report any visual items that meet severe storm damage criteria for verification of the NWS warnings. It’s no wonder why the NWS refers to amateur radio weather spotters as “the eyes of the National Weather Service”.

Note that our mission is slightly different that the mission of SKYWARN. The National Weather Service only wants to have reported:


TORNADO Always Call Tornado Warning Issued. Look for debris on the ground
FUNNEL CLOUD/ WALL  CLOUD Always Call Look for organized persistent sustained rotation
HAIL Call if Half-inch size or larger** Severe thunderstorm Warning Issued: 1 inch diameter or larger. Always report he largest size hailstone
WIND GUSTS Call if 50 mph or higher Severe Thunderstorm Warning Issued: Sustained 40 mph. gusts to 58 mph or greater. Specify esitmate or measurement
HEAVY RAIN/ FLOODING 1.0” rain/hr or greater for urban areas. 1.5” rain/hr or greater for rural areas. Also call 911 for flooding Flash Flood Warning issued: Flooding that impacts roads homes or businesses.
STORM DAMAGE Always Call Damage to structures (roof siding windows etc). Damage to vehicles (from hail or wind). Trees or large limbs down. Power/telephone poles or lines down. Damage to farm equipment machinery. Or any other significant damage.




SKYWARN Recognition Day Update

Due to remodeling at the National Weather Service Office in Valley, Nebraska, they are unable to host this event.  This will be the first time that the Omaha/Valley office will not participate since the event began.     But they are looking forward to having us back out in 2019.

However, you can still get on the air and talk to many NWS stations around the country.

You can learn more about the event at:

If you are on Echolink:

SKYWARN Recognition Day (SRD) 2018 on the *WX_TALK* Echolink Conference Node: 7203/IRLP 9219 System – Saturday 12/1/18 0000-2400 UTC

Advanced Spotter Training

REGISTRATION IS CLOSED – All Seats are Spoken For!

Are you a SKYWARN spotter?  Have you attended a spotter training class in 2017 or 2018?  Then…
Douglas County ARES has arranged with Brian Smith, Warning Coordination Meteorologist with the National Weather Service to present an Advanced Weather Spotting class for trained spotters in the Omaha Metro Area.  This training only happens every few years and covers more than the annual spotter training.

The Advanced Spotter training will be held on Thursday April 19th, 2018 at 7:00 pm at  Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services 10629 Burt Circle Omaha NE.

Attendees must have had in person spotter training in 2017 or 2018.

There is Limited Seating for this event.  To ensure seating,  attendees must sign up using the following link

The registration form will automatically close when the seating limit is reached.


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.

SKYWARN Recognition Day (SRD)

SKYWARN Recognition Day (SRD) will take place this year on Saturday, December 2from 0000 until 2400 UTC (starts on the evening of Friday, December 1, in US time zones). During the SKYWARN Special Event, ham radio operators will set up stations at National Weather Service (NWS) offices and contact other radio amateurs around the world.

Participating Amateur Radio stations will exchange a brief description of their current weather with as many NWS-based stations as possible on 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6, and 2 meters plus 70 centimeters. Contacts via repeaters are permitted.

The event runs from 0:00 Zulu to 23:59 Zulu on December 2nd.  Primary operations will start at about 9:00 am local time at the NWS Station is Valley NE.    Stop by between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm on Saturday and join in the fun.

SRD was developed jointly in 1999 by the NWS and ARRL to celebrate the contributions SKYWARN volunteers make to the NWS mission — the protection of life and property. Amateur Radio operators, which comprise a large percentage of SKYWARN volunteers, also provide vital communication between the NWS and emergency managers, if normal communications become inoperative.